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3. Solomon to Shulamith at the wedding entertainment, Song of Solomon 4:1-6.
Song of Solomon 4:1. Lo, thou art fair, my dear, etc.—The verbal correspondence of this praise of Solomon’s beauty with Song of Solomon 1:15 is designed as in Song of Solomon 6:4 (and so in Song of Solomon 6:10; Song of Solomon 8:5 comp. with Song of Solomon 3:6) to direct attention to Solomon as again the speaker of these words. And it follows with great probability that the person addressed is likewise the same as before, not some new object of the king’s love different from Shulamith, as Hitzig asserts.—Behind thy veil.—So correctly Hitzig, Vaih., Heiligst., etc., with whom Böttch. and Gesen.-Dietr. (“through thy veil,” i.e., appearing through) substantially agree.1—Thy hair like a flock of goats which repose on Mount Gilead.—As Gilead is visible from the Mount of Olives in the far distance, but not from Jerusalem, its mention, like that of Lebanon and Hermon in Song of Solomon 4:8, and like so many other allusions in the poem to localities in the north of Palestine, is to be explained from the circumstance that when Solomon was speaking to his beloved, he liked to transport himself to the region of her home with its peculiar circle of impressions and ideas. Gilead is, besides, a mountain land specially rich in cattle (comp. Numbers 32:1; Micah 7:14; Jeremiah 1:19), and modern travellers have found it still strewn, as it were, with flocks and herds. Comp. Arvieux, II., 688; Paulus, Reisen, 7, 108; Rosenm., Morgenl., I., 85, etc.—The point of comparison in the figure is to be found mainly in the glossy blackness and luxuriant abundance of Shulamith’s hair, perhaps also in its silky softness and delicacy, less likely in her elegant and elaborately braided tresses, to which Magnus thinks there was subordinate reference. Old Luis de Leon correctly (in Wilkens, p. 219): “He indicated thus the abundance and the color of her hair; for the goats, which pastured there, were dark and glossy. He says therefore: as the goats scattered on the summit of Gilead give it a fine and pretty appearance, whilst before it looked like a bald and arid rock, so does thy hair adorn and ornament thy head by its rich color and abundance.”
Song of Solomon 4:2. Thy teeth like a flock of shorn sheep.—Sheep recently shorn, consequently smooth, and besides just washed in the pool, and hence snow-white, evidently are a peculiarly appropriate figure for dazzling white teeth, provided pastoral figures or those taken from the realm of country life were to be used at all. And this was to a certain extent necessary here; at least it was extremely natural to illustrate the contrast between the blackness of her hair and the whiteness of her teeth by adding a flock of white lambs to the flock of black goats spoken of in Song of Solomon 4:1. The idea of the pool for the sheep spontaneously offered itself, since washing newly shorn sheep was a universal custom in antiquity; comp. Columella’s advice (Song of Solomon 7:4) to wash sheep four days after the shearing.—All of which bear twins, and one bereaved is not among them.—An allusion to the completeness of her teeth, the two rows of which, upper and lower, not only have no breaks, but in every instance exhibit a pair of teeth exactly answering to one another, twin teeth, as it were, throughout.2 That sheep in the East are still mostly διδυμοτόκοι, i.e., have two lambs at a time, is testified by recent travellers, e.g., the anonymous author of the publication, “Ægypten wie es jetzt ist,” p. 42 (comp. Magn. in loc.). L. De Leon (in the same place as before) has again finely shown the sensible and striking character of the comparison here selected: “The figure almost paints the whole thing before our eyes. The flock of sheep, which always go crowded together like the scales of fir cones, represent the compactness and smallness of her teeth: their whiteness is expressed by their coming up from the washing; their uniformity by none being sick or barren.”
Song of Solomon 4:3. Like a crimson thread thy lips, and thy mouth is lovely.—The lips immediately follow the teeth, not simply because they cover them (Hitzig), but also because the bright red of the one forms an elegant contrast with the dazzling whiteness of the other; comp. the combination of the two colors in Song of Solomon 5:10. Then the mouth, comprehending both teeth and lips, stands here in its quality of an organ of speech, whence also it is called מִדְבָּר from דִּבֶּר, “to speak,” and is supplied with a predicate (נָאוָה, lovely; comp. Song of Solomon 2:14; Song of Solomon 1:15), which serves to characterize not so much its pretty shape or color as the agreeable and beneficent effects proceeding from it. The Sept., Vulg., Syr., Hengstenb., etc., take מִדְבָּר as equivalent to speech; A. Schultens and Döpke, to tongue; Hitzig, to palate. But like all that is described before and after, this expression must denote some part of the body, and one too that is externally visible, and which forms a substantial feature of Shulamith’s beauty.—Like a piece of pomegranate thy cheek.—רַקָּה literally “the temple” (Judges 4:21; Judges 5:26), here manifestly the upper part of the cheek, whose soft red borders upon the white of the temple. For this figure of the half of a pomegranate (פֶלַח הָרמּוֹן) refers to the pleasing combination of white and red; on one side of the exterior of this fruit “a bright red is mingled with yellow and white,” whilst the other side looks brown (Döpke). It is only to a half, a segment3 (פֶלַח from פלח, “to cut fruit,” 2 Kings 4:39) of the pomegranate that the cheek is compared because its soft curve only corresponds in fact to the segment of a sphere. Not, therefore, “like a slice of a pomegranate” (Luth.) [so Durell, Hodg., Thrupp], as though the flat inner surface of a sliced pomegranate were intended (Hengstenb., Hahn., etc.). For the appearance of the reddish seeds of this fruit, lying in a yellowish pulp, would not form a suitable comparison, whether for a cheek or a temple.
Song of Solomon 4:4. Like the tower of David thy neck, built for an armoury. His aim was not to describe the slender grace and erectness of Shulamith’s neck in and of itself, but likewise with reference to its ornaments consisting of brilliant jewelry and ornamental chains (comp. Song of Solomon 1:9-11) and consequently in respect to its superb and stately appearance (comp. Song of Solomon 7:5 ). A pecularly suitable comparison was accordingly offered to the king in the tower, hung around with burnished pieces of armor, and probably built of white free-stone, which David may have erected somewhere in the vicinity, perhaps at one corner of his palace on Zion as a bulwark or a watch tower.4 The identity of this tower with the “tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus” mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:5 (4) is contradicted by the fact that the latter is a figure for an entirely different thing from that now before us (versusEwald, Hitzig, etc.). Still less can the ivory tower spoken of in the very same passage be identical with this. This manifestly appears from the further defining clauses “built for an armory,” etc., to have been a fortification, a stronghold for arms, a tower for warlike purposes, and hence, perhaps, is not distinct from the “house of the mighty” (בֵּית הַגִבּוֹרּים) spoken of in Nehemiah 3:16, which is assigned to the neighborhood of the district of Beth-zur and the sepulchres of David, i.e., on the eastern side of Zion, on the very spot where David’s old palace must have stood (comp. Weissbachin loc.)—The difficult expression תַּלְפִּיּוֹת, which the LXX render as a proper name (θαλφιώθ), the Vulg. by propagnacula, Aq., and the Versio Veneta by ἐπάλξεις, is most correctly taken with Kimchi for a compound of תֵּלcollis (const.תַּל) and פִּיוֹתenses, edges, sword-blades (Proverbs 5:4; Judges 3:16; comp. Psalms 149:6), or which amounts to the same thing, referred to תלה “to hang” and פִּיּוֹת in the same sense as before (Hengstenb., Del., Weissb., etc.). In both cases it must designate a lofty object of the nature of a fortification, hung around with swords or bristling with swords, consequently, as mention is also made of shields in what follows, an armory which, as it served for the preservation of numerous martial weapons of offence and defence, was likewise hung around with them on the outside, and thus embellished. For the shields hung on it (עָלָיו) according to the next clause of the verse, and not barely in it (as Hitzig supposes, who fancies a “mound of earth,” which “hides in its bosom such murderous weapons” as swords, shields, etc. This explanation is at any rate better suited to the connection and yields a more appropriate figure for Shulamith’s neck decorated with brilliant ornaments than the derivation of תַּלְפִּיּוֹת from a substantive תַּלְפִּי, which, according to the Arab., would mean “host, army” (Ewald: “built for troops;” Böttch., Rödig., compare Heiligst.), or from an alleged adjective תַּלְפִּיexitialis, destructive, hence תַּלְפִּיּוֹתexitialia, viz. arma, murderous weapons, or from לפה לָבַן to be white, hence “pieces of alabaster” (Hahn), and the like.5—All the shields of heroes.שְלָטִים has a wider meaning than מָגֵן, which specially denotes the “shield of a light armed soldier,” the “target;” see Gesen. Thes., p. 1418. We are scarcely to think of the shields of conquered heroes, of those for instance which David (2 Samuel 8:7) had taken from the Syrians (versus Weissb.), because the mighty men here mentioned are simply referred to as the garrison of the armory here described. Comp., moreover, Ezekiel 27:11, a passage which is probably based on that before us.
Song of Solomon 4:5. Thy two breasts like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that are feeding among lilies. On c comp. Song of Solomon 2:16. The comparison is plainly intended to express “delicate and exquisite beauty” (Hitz.); for since the gazelle itself, when full grown, is an admirable, attractive and favorite emblem of womanly grace and loveliness (Proverbs 5:19; comp. above on Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 2:9), a twin pair of its young lying on a bed covered with lilies appears to be still better fitted to illustrate the fragrant delicacy and elegance of a chaste virgin bosom veiled by the folds of a dress redolent of sweet odors (comp. Song of Solomon 1:13). A more detailed parcelling out of the comparison (as for instance by Hitzig, who thinks that the dress was red, or by Weissb., who supposes a particular reference in the young gazelles to the dark-colored nipples of her breasts as their especial charm, and in the lilies to the snowy whiteness of her bosom) is inadmissible, and leads to what is in violation of good taste or to what is obscene, from both which the poet has kept free here as every where else. Admirably here again Luis de Leon (p. 221, f.): “In addition to the delicacy of the young kids, in addition to their similarity as twins, in addition to their loveliness and gentleness they have in their merry gambols a frolicksomeness and gayety, which irresistibly enchains the eyes of beholders, and attracts them to come near and touch them,” etc.
Song of Solomon 4:6. Until the day cools and the shadows flee I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense. If Solomon were still the speaker in these words, nothing else could possibly be meant by the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense, but the breasts of the bride which would be so designated here in facetious and flowery style (Ewald, Heiligst., Weissb., Ren., etc.,) with allusion to the fragrant substances, which were between them or upon them6 (comp. Song of Solomon 1:13). But the very circumstance, that then the foregoing figure for the bosom would here be followed by one entirely new and of a different description, whilst every other part of the body spoken of in this section is represented by but a single figure (see Song of Solomon 4:1-4) makes it improbable that the words before us belong to Solomon. To which may be added that עַד שֶׁיָּפוּחַ הַיּוֹם, etc., must belong to Shulamith here as well as in Song of Solomon 2:17; and that Böttcher’s attempt to assign only these introductory words to the “vinedresser” as he calls her, and the latter part of the verse from אֵלֵךְ לִי onward to the king who interrupts her, seems scarcely less arbitrary than Hitzig’s view that the whole verse is spoken by the shepherd, who suddenly enters and declares his purpose to effect the speedy rescue of Shulamith! Umbr., Döpke, Vaih., Delitzsch, etc., properly assign the words to Shulamith, who seeks thus to parry the ardent encomiums of Solomon, and hence expresses the wish to leave the wedding hall resounding with the boisterous festivities of the guests until the approach of evening. The “mountain of myrrh” and the “hill of frankincense,” which she wishes to visit for this end, were probably certain localities about the royal palace, near the hall and visible from it, which either always bore those names or only on the occasion of the present marriage, to which fumigations with various spices belonged as an absolutely indispensable ingredient, comp. Song of Solomon 3:6. As presumably solitary, shady spots, belonging, it may be, to grounds laid out as gardens (perhaps “beds of balsam.” of the sort mentioned in Song of Solomon 5:13, raised in the shape of pyramids or towers), these must have been to the simple-minded, guileless child of nature more desirable places to stay in than the noisy festive hall. Comp. her similar expressions of a strong desire for the fresh solitude of nature in opposition to the luxurious life of the court; Song of Solomon 1:7; Song of Solomon 1:16, and especially Song of Solomon 7:12 (11) ff. This understanding of the “mountain of myrrh,” etc., is evidently far less forced than explaining it of Lebanon, or generally of the region of Shulamith’s home, for which she here expresses her desire (Umbreit, Vaih.), or of “Sion as the seat of the court” (Hitzig), or of Zion as a figure of the church (Hengstenb.), or of Moriah as the Temple-mountain which is here designated הַר הַמּוֹר (Ibn Ezra, Jarchi). Comp. on Song of Solomon 5:13 and Song of Solomon 6:2.
4. Continuation: Song of Solomon 4:7-11.
Song of Solomon 4:7. Thou art all fair, my dear, and there is not a blemish in thee. Correctly Delitzsch: “This childlike disposition expressed Song of Solomon 4:6, makes her but the more lovely in the eyes of the king; he breaks out in the words, ‘thou art all fair, my dear,’ etc., undoubtedly meaning that the beauty of her soul corresponds with her outward beauty—not with reference, therefore; to the charms, of her bodily figure from her breast downward, which are more fully described subsequently Song of Solomon 7:2 ff.” (Weissb.)—On the form of expression, particularly in b, comp. 2 Samuel 14:25; Ephesians 5:27.
Song of Solomon 4:8. With me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon thou shalt come. Several of the advocates of the shepherd-hypothesis assume at these words a change of person and with it likewise a change of scene, either making the shepherd himself enter and speak all that follows to Song of Solomon 4:16 (so Böttcher, Ren.), or at least to Song of Solomon 4:8 (so Hitzig), or regarding all from this verse to Song of Solomon 5:8 as a monologue of Shulamith, who herein relates the words previously spoken to her by her country lover (so Ewald, who accordingly imagines that the words: “Lo, here comes my lover, and says to me,” or the like, have been dropped out before this verse). But an unprejudiced interpretation renders such artifices needless. Led by the wish of his beloved, expressed in Song of Solomon 4:6, to exchange her place amongst the jubilant guests for the quiet solitude of nature, Solomon recalls her descent from a simple shepherd’s family in the mountain region of Northern Palestine, and hence he exultingly and in exaggerated expressions announces to her how instead of living in sterile mountain districts, and on barren rocky heights rendered insecure by wild beasts, she should henceforth make her home with him in the royal palace, and in the midst of its rich joys and blissful beauties, herself its loveliest flower, the most charming and spicy of its gardens (see especially Song of Solomon 4:12-15). The enthusiastic lover does not consider that in this he says nothing that is really agreeable to her, but actually contravenes her longing to escape into the open country from the close and sultry atmosphere of court life, any more than he concerns himself about the exaggerated character of his comparisons, e.g. of the mountains around Shunem with Lebanon, or of the “little foxes” in Shulamith’s vineyards (Song of Solomon 2:15) with lions and panthers. Poetical exaggerations of this sort are besides quite accordant with his taste (comp. Song of Solomon 4:4 and especially Song of Solomon 7:5), and appear much less strange in him than the bold comparison of Zion or of Solomon’s palace with the heights of Lebanon and Hermon (according to Hitzig, Böttch., Renan, etc.,) would sound in the mouth of a simple shepherd.—Besides תָּבוֹאִי “thou shalt come” shows that the speaker had a definite term in mind, to which Shulamith was to come from “Lebanon” as her previous residence (comp. Hitzigin loc.), and that consequently the idea of going up and down from one peak of Lebanon to another (Delitzsch) is not found in the passage.7—Shalt journey from the top of Amana. The “summit” or the “top” of Amana is without doubt the mountain by the river Amana mentioned 2 Kings 5:12 K’ri, that is to say that peak of the Lebanon or more accurately the Antilibanus-range, in which this river Amana, the Chrysorrhoas of the Greeks or the Barada of, the Arabs takes its rise. This peak, like the following Shenir and Hermon, stands of course by poetic license for the entire range. For the poet cannot have intended a contrast between the Lebanon in a and these names of mountains that follow, but “he only varies the names because one meant the same to him as another” (so correctly Hitzig, versusDelitzsch, Hengstenb., etc.).—From the top of Shenir and Hermon. According to Deuteronomy 3:9 Shenir was the Amoritish name for Hermon itself, which thereby appears to be designated as the “snow mountain” (according to Jarchi on that passage and the Targum on this). Still it is shown as well by the passage before us as by Ezekiel 27:5, 1 Chronicles 5:23, that a distinction was commonly made between Shenir which lay further to the north and Hermon (now Jebel esh-Sheikh) the more southern of the principal peaks in the entire Hermon or Antilibanus range (comp. Robinson, Palest. II. p. 440 (edit. 1838), Berth, on 1 Chronicles 5:23). As now Amana, where the Chrysorrhoas has its source, must be the peak lying farthest to the east or north-east, the enumeration of the three peaks or ridges belonging to Antilibanus evidently proceeds from the north-east to the south-west, or from the region of Baalbec to that of Hasbeya and Paneas (comp. Hitzigin loc.).—From dens of lions, from mountains of panthers. These expressions as belonging to the description and only alluding in a general way to the wild and inhospitable character of the region about Shulamith’s home, are not to be pressed for the sake of obtaining any more special sense, particularly not so as with Köster, Böttcher, Hitzig, etc. to explain the lions of “the king of Israel and his magnates who have dragged the graceful roe Shulamith into his den!” Lions moreover must have had their haunts in the forests of Lebanon, as well as in the reeds on the banks of the Jordan (Zechariah 11:3; Jeremiah 12:5) and on Bashan (Deuteronomy 33:22). And panthers (this is the meaning of נְמֵרִים, not leopards, which as is known, are only found in Africa) are still found in the region of Lebanon according to modern travellers, (Burckhardt, Reisen in Syrien, pp. 99, 66).
Song of Solomon 4:9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my bride. This double designation of his beloved as sister and as bride is neither meant to indicate a peculiarly intimate nor preeminently chaste and pure relation of love. The thing here intended by it is the designation of a certain relationship. As Solomon’s lawful wife Shulamith now, after the marriage has taken place, stands next to him as a sister to her brother.8 She is not barely one of a number of wives (Song of Solomon 6:8) but a sisterly sharer of his royal rank and name. She is queen, as he is king, yes, a “prince’s daughter,” Song of Solomon 7:2, as he is a prince’s son (correctly Hitzig and Weissb.).—לִבַּבְתִּנִי not “thou robbest me of courage” (Umbr., Magn.), non “thou hast given me courage” (Symm., Syr., Ewald, Döpke, Böttcher, Meier, Weissb., etc.), but “thou hast unhearted me” (Delitzsch) i.e. “robbed me of my heart, so that it is no more mine but thine,” hast “enchanted me and made me wholly thine own.”9—With one of thy glances; literally “with one from thy eyes,” i.e. with a single one of the glances that proceed from them (Hengstenb., Hitzig, etc.); for the masc. בְאֶחָד of the K’thibh, which is certainly to be retained, cannot refer to one of the two eyes (עַיִן is never masc.), but only to one thing which comes forth from the eyes, an effect proceeding from them.10—With one chain of thy necklace. The representation is ideal and hyperbolical as in the preceding verse. It proceeds in rapturous exaggerations as well here where it paints in detail, as before where it dealt in pompous and grandiloquent expressions. But to be sure, in the matter of love, it always remains true: small causes often produce great effects!—עֲנָק not “ringlet, lock of the front hair hanging down on the neck” (Hitzig), but neckchain, or ornament (comp. the plur.: Proverbs 1:9; Judges 8:16). צַוְּרוֹנִים, since it is plural, can neither mean “neck” (Sept., Vulg., Hitzig, etc.) nor be a diminutive of endearment, “tiny neck” (Gesenius, Ewald, Heiligst., etc.). It must rather denote something suspended about the neck, a necklace or jewelry for the neck,11 and עֲנָק a single piece or constituent of it. What had enchanted the king was of course not the elegance or ingenious workmanship of this ornament itself, but that Shulamith’s neck looked so charmingly in it. Comp. above on Song of Solomon 1:10.
Song of Solomon 4:10. How fair is thy love, my sister, my bride.דּוֹדִים here again, not “breasts” (Sept., Vulg., Luther), but “caresses, manifestations of love,” as Song of Solomon 1:2. Comp. generally Song of Solomon 1:2-3. Solomon here gives back to his beloved with larger measure, what she had there declared of him when absent.
Song of Solomon 4:11. Liquid honey thy lips distil, my bride; honey and milk are under thy tongue. As in the preceding verse, which like the present consists of three clauses, the first two members refer to one and the same subject, so these two clauses aim to depict but one attribute or one characteristic of Shulamith, viz., her lovely discourse, how sweetly she talked. For it is to this that the figures of lips and tongue point, comp. on the one hand Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 6:24; Proverbs 7:5; Proverbs 16:24; and on the other Psalms 55:22; Psalms 66:17; Psalms 10:7; Pindar, Nem. iii. 134; Theocrit. Id. viii. 82 ff.; xx. 26 ff. The fragrant spittle of the kissing mouth can scarcely be intended (vs. Döpke, Magn., Weissb.), in spite of Arabic and classic parallels, that might be adduced (the saliva oris osculantisHorat. Od. I. 13, 16; Catull. 99, 2, etc.). For the parallels Song of Solomon 2:14, Song of Solomon 5:13; Song of Solomon 5:16, likewise refer to the loveliness of discourse, not to the sweetness of kisses.—And the fragrance of thy garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. As is shown by the parallel, Hosea 14:7, the Lebanon of this passage is not to be converted into לְבוֹנָה “frankincense” as Döpke imagines, on account of the “sicut odor thuris” of the Vulg. (which probably arose from misunderstanding the ὡς ὀσμὴ Λιβανοῦ of the Sept.). Modern travellers testify (Schulz, Leit. d. Allerh., Th. V. p. 459; Zeller, Bibl. Wörterbuch für d. Christl. Volk II. p. 42) that the cedar groves of Lebanon diffuse a strong balsamic odor. Isaac also commends the scent of his son Esau’s garments (Genesis 27:27); and so Psalms 45:9 praises the garments of a king celebrating his marriage, which were perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cassia.
5. Continuation. Song of Solomon 4:12-15.
Song of Solomon 4:12. A garden locked is my sister, my bride; a spring locked, a fountain sealed. If instead of גַּל in b we were with about 50 Heb. Mss. of Kennicott, the Sept., Vulg., Syr., etc.,12 to read גַּן again, the comparison with the garden, being immediately repeated, would appear to be the main and prominent thought. But it is evidently more suitable that the figure of the spring, which is not carried out any further in what immediately follows, should be twice repeated, in order that it may not be too abrupt. The change of the unusual גַּל (which means spring, fountain, as appears from Joshua 15:19; Judges 1:15; comp. English well, of which the German “Wellen” (waves) is the plural) into גַּן which had been used just before, would also be easier to explain, than a conversion of the latter into the former expression. The garden and the spring being locked up and sealed, naturally indicates that the access is open only to the owner and possessor himself. Comp. Song of Solomon 4:16, where Shulamith designates her hidden charms first as her own garden, then as Solomon’s; also Proverbs 5:15-18, where the figure of a spring is likewise applied to the natural relation between a wife and her wedded lord, so that she is represented by a fountain absolutely inaccessible to all men except her husband, and the right of the latter freely to enjoy and to refresh himself with the waters of this spring is clearly presupposed.13 A previous coyness of Shulamith toward her lover (Hitzig, Vaih., etc.) is not at all the thing intended.
Song of Solomon 4:13-14. A more minute description of the garden, i.e., of the charms of Shulamith, in so far as they may be represented by the choice plants and delicious fruits of a pleasure garden, accessible only to the king; an expansion therefore of Song of Solomon 4:12 a (as Song of Solomon 4:12 b is more fully unfolded in Song of Solomon 4:15). Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates.שֶׁלַח means here as in Exodus 31:5, not a plantation (Hengstenb.), but a single plant, literally a shoot, sprout (comp. שִׁלַּחPsa 80:12; Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 17:6-7). By this figurative expression are denoted the charms, the ravishing beauties of the beloved in general, not specially her limbs (Hitzig), or the fragrance of her unguents (Weissb.). A particular explanation of the individual products of the garden is, on the whole, impossible, and it leads to what is at variance with good taste. רִמֹּנִים pomegranates, i.e., the trees, not their fruit (Döpke, Ewald, Weissb.); for the fruit is mentioned afterwards.—On the different opinions respecting the etymology of פַּרְדֵּם, comp. the Introduction, § 3 Rem. 2.—With most excellent fruit; lit., “with fruit of excellencies” (מְגָדִים as Song of Solomon 7:13). The fruit of the pomegranate trees before mentioned may very well be intended; עִםwith does not necessarily, as is shown by Song of Solomon 1:11, introduce something entirely new and of a different sort (vs. Weissb.)—Cyprus flowers with nards. As already remarked on Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 1:14, the cyprus flower or alhenna was the only one of these plants, which was also cultivated in Palestine. The nard grass, grown only in India, is therefore simply added here for the sake of the delightfully fragrant unguent obtained from it, as in the following verse incense, calamus, cinnamon, and probably also saffron are exotic plants known to the Hebrews only from their aromatic products. The description accordingly loses itself here again in rapturous exaggerations and improbabilities in natural history, which however at the same time bear witness to an extensive knowledge of nature (comp. Introduc. § 3, Rem. 1).—Nard and crocus, calamus and cinnamon.כַּרְכּםֹ, Chald.כּוּרְכַּם, Sept.κρόκος (comp. Sanskrit, kunkuma) is the saffron flower, (Crocus sativus) indigenous in India, but introduced also into Egypt and Asia Minor, and consequently perhaps also into Palestine. A water was prepared from it for smelling bottles, with a pungent but agreeable odor, which was a great favorite in antiquity; comp. Winer, R. W. B. Art. “Safran.”—קָנֶה, Sept.κάλαμος, is, according to Jeremiah 6:20; Isaiah 43:24; Ezekiel 27:19, an article of trade brought from Arabia Felix, sweet cane, calamus. The calamus (juncus odoratus, Plin. XII. 22; XXI. 18) which according to Theophrastus, Pliny and Strabo, grew in Coelesyria and by the lake of Gennesaret, was of an inferior and less valuable sort.—קִנָּמוֹן a Semitic name, as it would appear (lit. “the reed,” or the “rolled together,” from קנה קנם), in case it is not of Indian origin, and connected with the Malay kainamanis (so Rödiger, Additamenta ad Thesaur., p. 111) signifies cinnamon, which, according to Herodot. III. 111 came through Arabia from the remotest south, that is, probably from Ceylon.—With every variety of incense woods,i.e., with every species of wood, which yields a fragrant gum of the nature of frankincense, or when pulverized is used as “aromatic dust,” or as a powder to be sprinkled for fumigation. In opposition to the reading עֲצֵי לְבָנוֹן (Sept., Velth., Döpke), see Hitzigin loc.—Myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. For myrrh comp. on Song of Solomon 1:13; and for aloes (אֲהָלוֹת or אֲהָלִים, as Proverbs 7:17.; Numbers 24:6; Gr. ἀγάλλοχον, Sanskr. aguru, aghil) see Winer, R. W. B.—Under “all the chief (lit., all heads of) aromatic plants,” balsams or spices (בְשָׂמִים a general expression, as in Exodus 30:23; Esther 2:12), in addition to the substances already named, cassia is especially to be regarded as included. For according to Exodus 30:23 ff., this particular aromatic product was mingled with myrrh, calamus and cinnamon, in the holy anointing oil, and in Psalms 45:9 (8) it appears with myrrh and aloes among the precious spices, with which the garments of the royal bridegroom were perfumed.
Song of Solomon 4:15. Further expansion of Song of Solomon 4:12 b.—A garden spring (art thou), a well of living water. Comp. Genesis 26:19; Jeremiah 2:13. By the “garden spring” (lit. spring of gardens) Hitzig understands the fountain of Siloah in particular—an assumption which is the more gratuitous, as the allusion to שִׁלֹחַ which he finds in שְׁלָחִים Song of Solomon 4:13, exists merely in the fancy of the overacute modern critic, in spite of Nehemiah 3:15; Isaiah 8:6; Ecclesiastes 2:6, etc.—And streams from Lebanon,i.e., water as fresh and delightfully refreshing as the gushing streams fed by the snows of Lebanon, Jeremiah 18:14. On the figure comp. besides Proverbs 5:15, the Phenician inscription of Kition (No. 2) adduced by Hitzig, in which a husband calls his deceased wife מבחיי, i.e., מַבֻּעַ חַיַּי, “the spring of my life.”
6. The complete union of the lovers, Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 5:1.—Ibn Ezra, followed by Ewald and Delitzsch, correctly puts the whole of Song of Solomon 5:16 into the mouth of Shulamith. The contrast of גַּנִּיmy garden in a with לְגַנּוֹhis garden in b does not make in favor of two speakers, but simply brings out the thought that her garden is his, and therefore that she, with all she has and is, belongs to him; a delicately refined suggestion which is lost by dividing the verse between the lover and his beloved, as approved in recent times (Döpke, Magn., Böttch., Hitz., Ren., etc.).
Song of Solomon 4:16. Awake, north wind, and come, O south. Shulamith in her poetically excited frame summons just these two winds to blow upon her garden, because neither the east wind with its parching effects and its frequent storms (Genesis 41:6; Isaiah 27:8), nor the rainy west wind (1 Kings 18:44 f; Luke 12:54) would be suitable in the connection; and yet two opposite winds must be named, as it is not a blowing off or blowing away that is intended, but causing the odors to flow forth and wafting them in all directions.14That its spices may flow,i.e., that every thing in me, which pleases my lover, all my charms may show themselves to him in their full power and loveliness.—Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat his excellent fruits. The language here becomes plainer, and passes over into a solicitation to her lover to enjoy to the full her charms which he had been praising (for אָכַל “to eat” in this comp. Proverbs 30:20.) Yet she expresses this wish not by a direct address to him, but by speaking of him in the third person—a token of her chaste, modest and bashful mind.—Song of Solomon 5:1. I come to my garden, my sister, my bride. That Solomon is here the speaker, whilst full of rapture he sets himself to comply with his beloved’s invitation and to devote himself entirely to her loving embrace incontestably appears from the correspondence of בָּאתִי with יָבֹא in b of the preceding verse, and of אָכַלְתִּי here with וְיֹאכַל there. These verbs, as well as אָרִיתִי לָקַטְתִּי “I pluck,” Exodus 16:16) and שָׁתִיתִי are not to be taken as preterites: “I have come,” etc., (Del., as the Sept., Vulg., Luther, etc.,) because the acme of love’s enjoyment, to which both are tending, was by no means reached and exhausted by a single conjugal embrace, but strictly as present, as serving to state that which is in the very act of being performed.15 Comp. דִּמִּיתִיךָ; Song of Solomon 1:9, and numerous examples in Ewald, Lehrb., § 135 c, [Green’sHeb. Gram., § 262, 2.]—I pluck my myrrh.… I eat my honey.… I drink my wine. A threefold declaration in different forms of his immediate readiness to enjoy the charms of his beloved, with a partial return to the figures in Song of Solomon 4:10-11; Son 4:13.16—Eat friends, drink and drink to repletion, O beloved. Every other understanding of these closing verses seems inappropriate and forced but that already suggested, according to which they are an encouraging address of the bridegroom to the wedding guests, who remain behind at the table. Thus, e.g., that of Ewald, that Shulamith describes in these words the way in which her distant lover, if she were with him and were celebrating her marriage with him, would remember his friends; the strange and burlesque idea of Böttcher referred to above, p. 72; that, too, of Eichhorn, Magnus, Hitzig: that the words are an exhortation of the poet to the two lovers to enjoy their love and intoxicate themselves therewith; and the like views of others, according to which Solomon either encourages his beloved (Umbr., Hengstenb., Hahn) or she him (Weissb.) to the enjoyment of love. These latter views are based upon an untenable translation of דּוֹדִים by “love” as though it were the object of וְשִׁכְרוּ (“intoxicate yourselves with love”) for דּוֹדִים with the scriptio plena is plur. of דּוֹד “beloved” (comp. on Song of Solomon 1:2), and consequently Proverbs 7:18 (where it is דֹּדִים “caresses” with the scriptio defectiva) cannot decide for the present case. The Sept., Vulg., Luther, Döpke, Vaih., Del., are substantially correct, the last of whom adds the just remark in explanation: “For each (of the guests) was to have his share in tasting the joy of this day.”
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. That the action of the Canticles reaches its centre and acme in this act, and especially at the close of it, cannot be doubted upon an unprejudiced view of the whole. “The newly wedded bride is now in the arms of her husband and king. Their ardent mutual love is the joyous spectacle presented to a festive assembly, which is attached to the king by friendship and love. Every where the feeling suited to a wedding, enjoyment, and this enjoyment shared by loving sympathy. Arrived at the summit of love’s mystery and moving there with holy purity the song here dies away amid the revelry of the guests.” (Del., p. 115.)
2. The recognition of the central and superior significance of this section is of necessity precluded upon the allegorical interpretation, because it fails to perceive the organic progress of the action in general, and supposes the union of the two lovers to have become complete long before this, (comp. above, p. 56) so as neither to require nor admit of increase. This unio mystica, this perfect union of Christ with His church or with the individual soul it consequently finds not at the conclusion merely, but already indicated at the very beginning of the present act in the “bed of Solomon,” Song of Solomon 3:7, by which it is true many allegorists understand every different sort of thing, (e.g., Ibn Ezra, the land of Israel; the Targ. and in recent times again Jo. Lange, the temple; Sanctius, prayer; Theodoret, the Holy Scriptures; Aponius, the cross of Christ; and Osiander, the free exercise of religion even!) But the majority find represented in it the communion of believers with Christ at the acme of its perfection, whether their particular explanation points to Christ Himself (Ambrose), or they find symbolized in it the heart of the Christian believer in conformity with Ephesians 3:17 (Coccei., etc.,) or the free access of believers to the throne of grace in this world and the next (Joh. Marck.), or “the church militant on earth, in which many children are born to the Lord” (Starke after many of the older writers, as Gregory the Great, Cassiodor., Beda, Calov., Heunisch, etc.), or “the intimate relation between the heavenly Solomon and the church” (Hengst.), or the “kingdom administered by Solomon, so far as its power is directed ad extra” (Hahn). In the case of the sedan or magnificent couch (אפריון Song of Solomon 3:9) this divergence of interpretations is repeated with a prevailing disposition to refer it to the unio mystica. For besides the holy of holies in the temple (Targ.), or the word of God (Mercer.), or the church (Zeltn.), or the human nature of Christ (Ambros., Athanas., Greg., Beda, Anselm, Jo. Lange), it is particularly the work of redemption with the gracious results proceeding from it (Sanctius; similarly Cocceius, Groenewegen, Starke, etc.,) or as expressed by Hengstenberg: “the glory of those measures by which the heavenly Solomon brings the Gentile nations into His kingdom,” that is supposed to be intended by this figure of the sedan.17 It is the same with Song of Solomon 3:11, where the “day of Solomon’s marriage” according to Starke signifies three things: 1. The day of salvation, when a sinner yields to converting grace, and is united to Christ by faith; 2. The day of the resurrection of the just, when Christ will make them partakers of the blessedness of the world to come. 3. The time when the Jewish people, who have long rejected Him shall crown Him in faith and publicly acknowledge Him as their bridegroom—an explanation with which most of the older and the later writers (even Hengstenb., Hahn, etc.,) substantially agree, especially in so far that nearly all of them understand by the mother of Solomon the church of the Old Testament or the people of Israel, and by the crown with which she adorns her son the entire body of converted souls, which are an ornament and an honor to the Messiah,18 comp. Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, etc.
This method of putting every possible interpretation upon every particular thing, and thus attaining an extravagant exuberance of multifarious significations, is also followed, of course, by the allegorists in the enthusiastic description of the beauty of the bride in Song of Solomon 4:1 ff. The hair of Shulamith compared with the flock of goats is made to signify either the entire body of believers or the weak and despised members of the church, or on the contrary, those who strive after a higher measure of perfection, the prelates of the church who have a keen eye like the goats, seek their food on the summits, eat what is green and chew the cud, and have parted hoofs and horns, wherewith to fight the heretics! The teeth of the beloved are prelates who feed upon the Scriptures, or teachers who attack the heretics; the lips either the preachers of God’s word or confessions of faith of the church; the neck the Holy Scriptures or the steadfastness and assured hope of believers; the breasts compared with twin roes either the law and the gospel, or the Old and New Testament, or the Jews and Gentiles, or the eastern and western church, or baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the two sacraments of the church!19 The locking up of the garden Song of Solomon 4:12 ff, denotes the strong protection with which God surrounds His church as with a wall of fire; the sealing is the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit on the church to enlighten and preserve it, Ephesians 4:30. The blowing of the north and south wind, Song of Solomon 4:16 also signifies the Holy Spirit in the varied operations of His grace, purifying, quickening, comforting, rendering fruitful, etc.; and the “coming of the bridegroom into his garden”
(Song of Solomon 5:1) according to the chronological expositors denotes the dawn of some new epoch in church history, e.g., according to Cocceius the times immediately succeeding Constantine the Great; according to Heunisch the ante-reformation period from the time of the great Schism (1378); according to Corn. a Lapide the incipient old age of the church, etc., but according to the greater number the particular times when Christ enters with the heavenly blessings of His grace into the hearts of believers (Revelation 3:20; John 14:23), or the threefold advent of the Redeemer: 1. In the form of a servant to found His church. 2. His invisible coming by His Holy Spirit to every individual of His people. 3. His eschatological coming at the judgment and the consummation. Compare generally the multitude of old interpretations of this sort collected by Starke on this section; also Wilkens, Fray Luis de Leon, p. 207, 215, and Dursch, Symbolik der Christlichen Religion, Vol. II. (Tübing., 1859),) passim.
3. Against such excesses and capricious trifling there is no protection but in that historical exegesis, which on the basis of the meaning of the words impartially ascertained endeavors, it is true, to point out the relations in which this action stands to the mysteries of revelation and redemption, and so to make application of its contents to the matters of the Christian life, but conscientiously refrains from all seeking or chasing after any direct spiritual and practical interpretation of individual passages, much less of individual words. To such an exegesis there appear to be chiefly three particulars of especial consequence in that stage of the action which is represented in this act: the elevation of the bride from a low condition to royal dignity and glory; her wondrous beauty as the ground of this elevation; and her chaste and humble mind which impels her to belong only to her lover and to live for him alone.
a. The simple country maiden from the tribe of Issachar is raised to be queen of all Israel, conducted in Solomon’s stately couch with a brilliant military escort, welcomed by the women of Jerusalem with pride and admiration, brought for her marriage to his splendid palace in Zion by Solomon, the most famous prince of his time. Here full of rapture he declares to her that he loves and admires her more than all beside, that she has completely won and captivated him, so that his heart belongs to her alone, and that she is henceforth to exchange her humble surroundings and her country home for his royal palace and its rich enjoyments and brilliant pleasures (see especially Song of Solomon 4:8-9). In like manner Christ, who is a greater than Solomon, who is King of all kings, and Lord of all lords, has exalted His church from misery and a low estate to a participation in His divine glory; He has made the despised and forsaken “His sister and bride,” a joint-heir of His eternal glory in heaven, has received her into His kingdom, into His heavenly Father’s house and there prepared a place for her, which she shall never be willing to exchange for her former abode in a remote and foreign land, in the wilderness of a sinful, earthly life. For the infinite superiority of that exaltation which the church of the Lord has experienced above that of Shulamith, and which every penitent and believing soul in it still experiences day by day, is shown in this that the shepherd girl from northern Palestine might with good reason look wistfully back to her poverty from Solomon’s palace, that her desire to return from the sultry life of the court to the fresh cool mountain air of her home was but too well justified, whilst the soul which has been translated out of the wretchedness of a sinful worldly life into the blessed communion of God’s grace, has no occasion nor right to be dissatisfied with its new home, but on the contrary has gained unmingled joy, delight and imperishable glory instead of its former condition of unhappy bondage and darkness.
b. The cause of Shulamith’s elevation to be queen of her people lay in her wonderful beauty, which throws the king into such an ecstasy that he analyzes it with the utmost detail in order that he may adduce the finest objects of nature, which his realm affords, to set forth her charms; yes, that he represents one single glance of her eyes, one chain from the ornaments of her neck as possessed of the power to chain him to her completely. So also it is the beauty and god-like dignity, originally belonging to human nature, obscured indeed by sin, but not completely and for ever destroyed, which brought the Lord down to our earth and made Him our Redeemer, the royal bridegroom and loving husband of His church. But there is this difference between the earthly Solomon and his celestial antitype, that the latter must restore the partially destroyed and hideously distorted beauty of His beloved before He can raise her to sit with Him on His throne; He must in order to effect this restoration endure the direst sufferings; He must redeem the poor captive from the prince of this world by the ransom of His own precious blood; and afterwards, too, He must with much trouble and pains seek to retain her whom He has dearly purchased in the way of righteousness and truth and preserve her from falling back again into the defilement of sin. The heavenly Solomon can never, during the course of this present world, attain to a really pure and undisturbed joy in His bride. He has quite too much to do in cleansing her ever anew with the washing of water by the word in order to present her to Himself holy and without blemish, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:26-27). The heavenly bridegroom of souls can neither sing to His church as a whole, nor to its individual members such a praise of her beauty as was sung by Shulamith’s husband, culminating in the encomium, “Thou art all fair, my dear, and there is not a blemish in thee,” Song of Solomon 4:7. He has, on the contrary, but too abundant occasion to speak to her in the tone adopted in the 16th chapter of the prophet Ezekiel. He must too often hold up before her not only the wretchedness of her birth and the misery of the first days of her childhood, but also the gross unfaithfulness and scandalous defilement of the flesh and spirit, of which, though His elect and His beloved, she has since made herself guilty. And He must all the more postpone her entrance upon the full enjoyment of His blessed society and His heavenly benefits until the future state, for the reason that she is previously lacking in many respects in another virtue which is most of all commended in Shulamith, her historical type. This is:
c. The chaste and humble mind, which the beloved of the earthly Solomon still preserved even after her elevation to regal dignity and glory, that child-like, pure and obedient heart which she brings to her husband, and in virtue of which she will belong only to him and offer the sweet-scented flowers and delightful fruit of her garden to him for his exclusive enjoyment. On the ground of this most sterling of all the qualities of his beloved, this crown of her virtues, Solomon celebrates on the very day of his marriage, his perfect union with her; the locked garden, the bolted and sealed fountain is opened to him for his comfort and refreshment.—The Church, as the bride of the Lord, remains a mere bride so long as she has to suffer and to fight here below, because she does not remain a locked garden and a sealed fountain, to the extent that this could be affirmed of her Old Testament type; because, on the contrary, she too often admits the seductive and defiling powers of sin and of the world to the sanctuary of her virginity, and allows them to desecrate the temple of her heart. Not until the end of days will her perfect union with the heavenly bridegroom be consummated, when she has suffered and contended to the full, and the great mystery, of which Paul writes, Ephesians 5:32, has been fulfilled by the final and visible coming of her beloved. Until then it is only individual souls in the midst of her, that band of His faithful and elect, who are truly known to the Lord alone (2 Timothy 2:19; Romans 8:28 ff.), whom He raises to the blessed height of a most intimate communion with Himself, and by the outpouring of His love in their hearts makes them partakers of the full blessings of His heavenly grace. This is that invisible communion of saints, which, as the true salt of the earth and light of the world, forms the real soul of Christendom, the genuine realization of the idea of the Church; which, as the true Bride of the Lamb, day by day with longing hearts unites in the supplication of the Spirit: “Come, Lord Jesus,” Revelation 22:17; which, as the entire body of the wise virgins (Matthew 25:10) with loins girded and lamps burning (Luke 12:35) waits and watches until He comes “that is holy and that is true, that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7); which shall therefore one day in glorious reality and with never-ending joy experience the fulfilment of that desire which bids them sigh and cry here below:
Oh! come, do come, Thou Sun,
And bring us every one
To endless joy and light,
Thy halls of pure delight.
[Percy gives the preposition a privative sense, and translates “now thy veil is removed.” He supposes that the royal pair having alighted from their carriage, the ceremony of unveiling the bride here follows, which gives occasion to the bridegroom’s encomium on those features which the veil in great measure concealed. But Williams observes that the “Eastern poets celebrate the charms of the fair through their veils, and improve this circumstance into an elegant compliment.” Ainsworth and others remark upon the circumstance that seven particulars are here mentioned in the description of the bride, viz.: her “eyes, hair, teeth, lips, temples, neck and breasts,” uniting, as Moody Stuart expresses it, “perfection of number with perfection of beauty.”—Tr.]
[Ginsburg adopts the translation of Lowth, Percy and Fry with advantage to the figure: “All of which are paired. That is, each upper tooth has its corresponding lower one; thus they, as it were, appear in pairs, like this flock of white sheep, each of which keeps to its mate, as they come up from the washing pool. And no one of them is deprived of its fellow, i. e., no tooth is deprived of its corresponding one, just as none of the sheep is bereaved of its companion. The teeth surely, which are here compared to the flock, cannot be said to bear twins like the sheep.”]
[Castellus, followed by Patrick, Good and others: the opening flower or blossom of the pomegranate. Williams: “If the bridal veil of the Hebrew ladies was like that of the Persians, made of red silk or muslin, it would throw a glow over the whole countenance that will account more fully for this comparison.”]
[Good: “The graceful neck of the fair bride is compared to this consummate structure; and the radiance of the jewels that surrounded it to the splendor of the arms and shields with which the tower of David was adorned. The simile is exquisite.”]
[“Our first business is here with the controverted word לתלפיות, our translation of which “with projecting parapets,” is in partial accordance with, and derives support from that of Symmachus, εἰς έπἀλξεις (al. έπἀνω έπἀλξεων). The word תלפיות, or rather its singular תלפיה [better תלפית] is regularly derived from the root לפה. That root is, according to Buxtorf, actually found in the Chaldee in the Targum of Jonathan on Leviticus 6:5; although in the Targum, as printed by Walton, we read not ילפי but יוםף. However, whether the root be used or no, its meaning may be assumed to be identical with that of לפף, which is found in other places in the Targum of Onkelos. The meaning is “to add on,” “to join on.” The substantive derived from it, when applied to a building, would thus naturally denote the projecting parts of the building, which seem as it were to be added on to the rest. We have an analogous term in the Chaldee לופּין, derived from the same root as תלפיות, and used in the Talmud of strongly marked eyebrows. The projecting parapets of a tower are in fact its eyebrows. And that ancient towers were built with such projecting parapets, and moreover that shields were hung by way of display on the exterior of the parapets, is established in the most satisfactory manner by a representation on a bas-relief at Kouyounjik, given by Layard, and also in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, s. v. Gammadims. Of the current explanations of תלפּיות, the only one which seems to call for notice, is that which derives it from תלה “to hang,” כּיות “edges,” and makes it mean “an armory.” Against this lie the objections, 1st that it unnecessarily treats תלכּיות as a composite word; 2d, that an armory would be more naturally described as a “hang-weapons” than a “hang-edges;” 3d, that the figure before us is not that of an armory, but of a building with shields hung on its exterior; 4th, that any etymological connection between the words תלכּיות and תלוי in the two adjoining clauses is improbable, as it would destroy the charm of the studied homœophony. There are two other passages of Scripture in which we may trace some allusion to this tower, Micah 4:8; Isaiah 5:2.” Thrupp.]
[Noyes thinks that the bride herself, in respect to her general charms, is here compared to a mountain of myrrh, etc., to whom the lover says he will return as the antelope flies to the mountain.]
[This interpretation certainly assumes such extraordinary exaggerations as to cast suspicion upon its correctness. Noyes says: “Verses 8 and 9 seem to be introduced very abruptly, and their import in this connection is not very obvious. Döderlein and others suppose them to be an invitation to the bride to take an excursion with him, in order that they might admire together all that was grand and beautiful in scenery. Others suppose them to be an invitation to the maiden to come from a place of danger to a place of complete, security in the arms of her lover.” Good: “By this forcible appeal the royal speaker invites his beloved to his arms as to a place of safety; and encourages her to look towards him for security amidst any dangers, either actual or imaginary, of which she might be apprehensive.” Burrowes: “These mountains thus beautiful but dangerous are put in contrast with the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frank incense. The beloved would have his spouse leave the former and seek his society in the retreats of the latter.” The majority of English commentators adopt a similar view, though with some variety in the figurative or symbolic sense which they put upon the mountains in question.—Tr.]
[Patrick: “Sister is only a word of tenderness and endearment used by husbands to their wives; as appears by the book of Tob 7:16; Tob 8:4; Tob 8:7.” Noyes, with less cogency, compares Tibul. 3:1, 26. Thrupp is consequently not warranted in saying: “The union of the two appellations is of itself an almost decisive objection against all literal interpretation of the Song. When it is urged by the literalists that the term sister is merely used as an expression of endearment, it may be at once replied that that is the very last term which in chaste love a bridegroom would ever think of applying to his bride.”]
[Wordsworth obtains substantially the same sense by a rendering precisely the opposite: “Lit.: Thou hast be hearted me. It implies the answering of heart to heart; the passing of one heart into another, so as to be united with it and fill it.”]
(Williams, who remarks that “the K’ri and many MSS. read אחת fem. to agree with עין,” endeavors to account for the singularity of the expression so understood in the following manner: “Supposing the royal bridegroom to have had a profile or side view of his bride in the present instance, only one eye or one side of her necklace would be observable; yet this charms and overpowers him. Tertullian mentions a custom in the East of women unveiling only one eye in conversation, while they keep the other covered; and Niebuhr mentions a like custom in some parts of Arabia. Trav. in Arab. I. p. 262.”]
[Whether this conclusion be correct or not, the argument here urged in its favor is plainly not decisive; for the plural of צַוָּאר, the ordinary word for “neck,” is more frequently used in a singular than a plural sense.—Tr.]
[So Thrupp: The received Hebrew text here gives not גן but גל which our E. V. renders “a spring.” But the word never occurs elsewhere in this sense; nor is it indeed, in the singular, applied to aught but a heap of stones.]
[Fry imagines that this and the following verses do not “contain comparisons of the bride, but are descriptive of the residence prepared for her reception.” He translates: “A garden is enclosed, my sister espoused,” etc. Maundrell, in his Journey says: “About the distance of one hundred and forty paces from these pools [i. e. of Solomon] is the fountain from which they principally derive their waters. This the friars told us was the sealed fountain, to which the holy spouse is compared, Song of Solomon 4:12. And they pretend a tradition that King Solomon shut up these springs, and kept the door of them sealed with his signet, to preserve the waters for his own drinking in their natural freshness and purity. Nor was it difficult thus to secure them, they rising under ground, and having no avenue to them but a little hole like the mouth of a narrow well. These waters wind along through two rooms cut out of the solid rock, which are arched over with stone arches, very ancient, perhaps the work of Solomon himself. Below the pool runs down a narrow, rocky valley, inclosed on both sides with high mountains; this, they told us, was the enclosed garden alluded to in the same Song.”]
[Burrowes: “The east wind is, in Palestine, generally withering and tempestuous; the west wind brings from the sea clouds of rain, or dark, damp air; the north wind is cooling and refreshing, its power being broken by the mountain chain of Lebanon; the south wind, though hot, has its heat mitigated in the upland regions, and is never stormy. The north wind is called on to “arise,” because it is more powerful and strong; the south wind to “come,” as though it were the soft breathing zephyr. The north wind brought clear weather; the south wind was warm and moist. The bride here calls for the north wind, that thereby all clouds may be swept away and the sky cleared; and for the south wind that its genial influence might ripen the fruits of the garden and draw forth the fragrance of the flowers.”]
[There is no reference in the language here employed to any thing low and sensual, but to pure and elevated enjoyment in the society and converse of his charming bride. The passage is thus appropriately paraphrased by Taylor: “I already enjoy the pleasure of your company and conversation; these are as grateful to my mind as delicious food could be to my palate: I could not drink wine and milk with greater satisfaction.” He also gives a like figurative turn to the last clause: “And you, my friends, partake the relish of those pleasures which you hear from the lips of my beloved, and of those elegancies which you behold in her deportment and ad dress.”—Tr.]
[But see דּוֹדַי Song of Solomon 7:13.—Tr.]
[Weiss expounds it of the holy of holies in Solomon’s temple; the Geneva version of “The temple which Solomon made;” Thrupp and Wordsworth, of the cross of Christ: The Westminster Annotations, Moody Stuart and B. M. Smith, of the person of Christ; Adelaide Newton, of the church; Ainsworth, of Christ and His church; Scott, the everlasting covenant which Christ has meditated in our behalf; Patrick, the preaching of the gospel by which the church is carried triumphantly through the world; Williams, the gospel in its onward progress; Fry and Burrowes, that conveyance, or those methods of divine grace by which the believer is carried onward toward heaven; Gill and Henry, hesitate between the human nature of Christ, the church, the gospel, and the plan of salvation. Burrowes says: “It seems no part of the mind of the Spirit that we should take this description to pieces and try to allegorize the several parts.” Thrupp also conveniently declines to carry the allegory through in all its details; “It is not necessary to suppose that any significance is intended in the assignment of separate materials to particular parts of the vehicle.” Scott, however, is ready with distinct meanings for the “pillars of silver,” the “bottom of gold,” and the “covering of purple.” And Thrupp himself insists that every separate feature of the bride in Song of Solomon 4:1-7 “must have its own distinct allegorical import. The comparisons would be as extravagant on the allegorical as on the literal interpretation, if the former were not to be carried out into details; and in fact that interpretation is virtually literal which refuses to see any allegory except in the general words ‘Thou art fair.’ ”]
Besides this prevalent form of the spiritual interpretation of Song of Solomon 3:11 there are various others of a more trifling character, especially among the older exegetes of whom, e.g., Beda and Anselm expound the wedding day of Christ’s conception and birth; Honorius v. Autun and Bernard of the death and resurrection of the Lord (and then the “crown” naturally becomes either the crown of thorns, or the crown of glory belonging to His resurrection and exaltation), whilst chronological expositors as Reinhard, Heunisch, etc., connect the wedding day with the epoch of Constantine the Great, or the conversion of the heathen in a body by the church, and Catholics like Cornelius a Lapide and Calmet explain the “mother” of Solomon of the Virgin Mary.”
[The two breasts are further explained in the notes of the Doway version to mean the love of God and the love of our neighbor; in the Geneva, knowledge and zeal; by Moody Stuart and M. B. Smith, faith and love; Patrick, the preachers respectively among Jewish Christians and among the Gentiles; Ainsworth, the loving affection, wholesome doctrines, sweet consolations and gracious beneficence of the church; Scott, the believer’s simplicity of affection for Christ and the delight which Christ reciprocally takes in him; Thrupp, Weiss and Wordsworth, the fountains of nourishment whence is drawn the milk of pure and sound doctrine; while Gill allows a choice between ministers of the gospel, the two Testaments, the two Sacraments and the two great commandments of the law. Burrowes, whom none can suspect of an indisposition to allegorize, has the good taste to revolt at such mangling of inspired emblems. He says, p. 359, “In the comparison of the foregoing verses the thing to be illustrated is the general beauty of the pious soul in the eyes of Jesus. Losing sight of this most commentators have marred the passage by separating these emblems from one another, and appropriating them to other uses than the one intended by the Holy Spirit. What would be thought of a person who under the plea of heightening the effect of a picture by a great artist, should cut out the several figures, the trees, the waters, the tinted clouds, and exhibit them apart in every imaginable variety of light and position? This would show something more than want of judgment. No argument would be necessary to make us feel that such was never the mind of the artist. The common method of expounding this and the other kindred passages in the Song, seems no less unreasonable.”]
Shulamith’s longing for her home again awakened.
Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 8:4
Shulamith and the Daughters of Jerusalem
(Song of Solomon 5:2 to Song of Solomon 6:3)
Shulamith (relating a dream).
Hark!3 my beloved is knocking:
‘Open4 to me, my sister,
my dear, my dove, my perfect;5
for6 my head is filled with dew,
my locks with drops of the night!’
3 “I7 have taken off my dress,
how shall I put it on?
I have washed my feet,
how8 shall I soil them?”—
and I was inwardly excited11 for him.
5 Up I rose to open to my beloved,
and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with liquid myrrh,
upon the handle of the bolt.
6 I opened to my beloved,
and my beloved had turned12 away, was gone;
I sought him but I did not find him,
I called him but he answered me not.
7 Found15 me then the watchmen, who go around in the city;
they struck me, wounded me,
took my veil16 off from me,
the watchmen of the walls.
8 I17 adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,
if ye find my beloved—
what shall ye tell him?
“that I am sick of love.”
Daughters of Jerusalem
thou fairest among women?
What is thy beloved more than (any other) beloved,
that thou dost adjure us thus?
10 My20 beloved is white and ruddy,
distinguished above ten thousand.
11 His head is pure gold,
his locks are hill upon hill,21
black as a raven.22
12 His eyes like doves by brooks of water,
bathing in milk, sitting on fulness.23
13 His cheeks like a bed of balm,
towers of spice plants;24
his lips lilies,
dropping liquid myrrh.
14 His hands golden rods,
encased in turquoises;25
his body a figure of ivory,
veiled with sapphires.
15 His legs columns of white marble
set on bases of pure gold;
his aspect like Lebanon,
choice26 as the cedars.
and he is altogether precious.29
This is my beloved, and this30 my friend,
ye daughters of Jerusalem.
Daughters of Jerusalem
VI. 1 Whither31 has thy beloved gone,
thou fairest among women?
whither has thy beloved turned,
that we may seek him with thee?
2 My32 beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the beds of balm33,
to feed34 in the gardens
and to gather lilies.35
3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
who feeds among the lilies.
solomon to the same as before
(Song of Solomon 6:4 to Song of Solomon 7:6)
4 Fair36 art thou, my dear, as Tirzah,
5 Turn away thine eyes from39 me,
for they have taken me by storm.40
Thy hair is as a flock of goats,
reposing on Gilead.
6 Thy teeth as a flock of sheep,41
that go up from the washing,
all of which have twins,
and there is not a bereaved one among them.
7 Like a piece of pomegranate thy cheek
from behind thy veil.—
8 There are sixty queens
and eighty concubines
and virgins without number.
9 My dove, my perfect is one,42
the only one43 of her mother,
the choice44 one of her that bare her.
Daughters saw her and called her blessed,
queens and concubines and they praised her:
10 “Who45 is this, that looks forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon, pure as the sun,
terrible as bannered hosts?”46
to look at the shrubs of the valley,
to see whether the vine sprouted,
the pomegranates blossomed.
12 I49 knew it not, my desire brought me
to the chariots of my people, the noble.
Daughters of Jerusalem
VII. 1 Come50 back, come back, Shulamith,
Come back, come back, that we may look upon thee.
What51 do you see in Shulamith?
Daughters of Jerusalem
As the dance of Mahanaim.
2 How52 beautiful are thy steps in the shoes, O prince’s daughter,
thy rounded53 thighs are like jewels,
the work of an artist’s hands.
3 Thy navel is a round bowl,54
let not mixed wine be lacking!55
thy body is a heap of wheat,
set56 around with lilies.
4 Thy two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
5 Thy neck like a tower of ivory,
thy eyes like pools in Heshbon
at the gate of the daughter of multitudes;
thy nose like the tower of Lebanon
which looks toward Damascus.
6 Thy head upon thee like Carmel,57
and thy flowing locks like purple—
a king fettered by curls !58
Solomon and Shulamith (alone)
(Song of Solomon 7:7 to Song of Solomon 8:4)
7 How fair art thou and how comely,
8 This thy stature resembles a palm tree,
and thy breasts clusters.61
9 I62 resolve: I will climb the palm,
will grasp its branches,63
and64 be thy breasts, please, like clusters of the vine,
and the breath of thy nose65 like apples,
10 And thy palate66 like the best wine.….
Shulamith (interrupting him)
gliding over the lips of sleepers.
11 I am my beloved’s,
and for69 me is his desire.——
lodge in the villages,
13 Start early72 for the vineyards;
we shall see whether the vine has sprouted,
its blossoms opened,73
the pomegranates flowered. …
there will I give thee my love.74
14 The mandrakes75 give forth their odor,
and over our doors are all sorts of excellent fruit,76
new as well as old,
(which), my beloved, I have laid up for thee.77—
VIII. 1 O78 that thou wert as a brother of mine,
who sucked the breasts of my mother!
should I find79 thee without I would kiss thee,
2 I would lead thee, bring thee to my mother’s house,
thou82 wouldst instruct me;
I would give thee to drink of the spiced wine,
of my pomegranate juice.
3 His left hand is under my head,
and his right embraces me.83—
4 I84 adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,
that ye wake not, and that ye waken not
love; till it please.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The place of the action in this new section is without doubt the same as in the foregoing act. The dialogue with the daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 5:8-9; Song of Solomon 5:16; Song of Solomon 6:1-3; Song of Solomon 7:1); the mention of the “city” and the “keepers of its walls” in this fresh recital of a dream (Song of Solomon 5:2-7) which reminds one of its predecessor (Song of Solomon 3:1-5); the “garden” of Solomon, to which he has gone down, Song of Solomon 6:2; finally and above all her appeal to her lover to go out with her “to the country” (Song of Solomon 7:12) and to the house of his chosen one’s mother (Song of Solomon 8:2), and there in the enjoyment of simple country pleasures to become to her “as a brother who had sucked the breasts of her mother” (Song of Solomon 8:1); all this points to the king’s palace at Jerusalem as the scene, and more probably to some room in this palace, than to “contiguous grounds” or “the royal gardens,” as is thought by Delitzsch. The room in the Palace on Zion, which, according to scene 2 of the foregoing act, was used for the marriage feast, may very well be the one in which the whole of the present act was performed; for there is no indication any where of a change of scene, not even between Song of Solomon 7:1-2, or between Song of Solomon 5:6-7 of the same chapter (vs. Del.).—The time of the action is determined by its characteristic contents to have been some days or weeks later than the wedding festivities described in act third. For the relation of love so pure and happy at the beginning has since suffered certain checks and interruptions, which reveal themselves on the part of Shulamith at least by various symptoms of uneasiness, nay, of sadness and dejection, without her betraying, however, that she has been at all wounded or actually injured by her husband. The dream, which she tells her companions at the beginning of the section that she has very recently had in the night, begins exactly like the preceding, and runs on partly in the same way. It does not, however, end as that does in a bright and joyous manner, but with pain and fright. Seeking her beloved by night, she not only fails to find him—she is beaten and robbed by the watchmen! Her gloomy misgiving in respect to the unfaithfulness of her lover, expressed in her apprehension that she might soil her feet again, which had just been washed (Song of Solomon 5:3, see in loc.), proves to be only too correct, and drives her therefore with an anxious and troubled heart to have it said to her lover, who has actually forsaken her for a time, “that she is sick of love”—of loving solicitude about his heart partially averted and alienated from her (Song of Solomon 5:8)! She expresses this solicitude, it is true, not by open complaint; on the contrary, in what follows she sedulously avoids dropping any thing to the disadvantage of her husband in the hearing of the ladies of the court (Song of Solomon 5:10-16), she apologizes for his leaving her by the harmless assumption that he may have gone “to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies,” Song of Solomon 6:2, and only inserts in her exclamation at the close an allusion indicative of painful longing in respect to the way that she wishes to be and to remain her beloved’s, viz., that he should now as formerly “feed among the lilies,” that he should be and remain a guileless, pure and simple-hearted country lover (Song of Solomon 6:3)!—When, therefore, Solomon himself returns to her after a considerable absence, the manifestations of her partial dissatisfaction with him assume a somewhat altered form. She regards him gravely and sternly, and thus leads him in the picture of her beauty and loveliness, which, full of ecstacy, he again begins to sketch (Song of Solomon 6:4 ff.; comp. Song of Solomon 4:1 ff.) to introduce some allusions to her “terribleness” (Song of Solomon 6:4; Song of Solomon 6:10), as well as to the effect of the glance of her eyes (Song of Solomon 6:5 a), which “overcome” or “dismay” him. The spirited statement of the prior rank accorded to her above all his wives and virgins, into which this description finally passes (Song of Solomon 6:8-10), she leaves wholly unnoticed; nay, she answers it with a description of what she once did and was engaged in, when a simple country maid in happier circumstances, and with more agreeable surroundings (Song of Solomon 6:11), and thereupon she gives him plainly enough to understand that the elevation bestowed upon her in consequence of her love “to the state-carriages of her people, the noble,” i.e. to the highest rank among the nobles of her people, had also led to her being painfully undeceived (Song of Solomon 6:12). She even wishes to escape from the society of the voluptuous ladies of the court, which has become irksome to her, and she is induced to return and remain, not so much by their urgent entreaties and representations (Song of Solomon 7:1) as simply and alone by her unconquerable love to Solomon, whom she hopes finally to free from his corrupt surroundings and to gain wholly for herself and for the purer pleasures of her life at home.—To the new and exaggerated laudation of her charms, in which her lover hereupon indulges (Song of Solomon 7:2 ff.) she listens in silence; as in one place at least they offend against the rules of modesty (Song of Solomon 7:3), she deigns not to answer. Not until the other ladies had left her alone with Solomon, does she venture to open her heart to him and to give free expression to her longing desire, which has been most strongly aroused, to return to her home and to have her lover changed from a voluptuous servant of sin to an innocent child of nature like herself. She does this by interrupting (Song of Solomon 7:10) the fond language of her husband just where it had become most urgent and tender, and chiming in with what had been begun by him. With extraordinary address and delicacy she first, as it were, disarms and fetters him (Song of Solomon 7:10-11) and then brings her desire before him with such overpowering force and urgency that refusal is impossible, and he is borne along as on the wings of the wind by her pure love, which triumphs thus over the enticements and temptations of his court (Song of Solomon 7:12 ff.). He need not utter a word of express consent to her request; she has him completely in her power, and as he has just called himself “a king fettered by her locks” (Song of Solomon 7:6), she but briefly refers to the fact, that his whole desire is toward her (Song of Solomon 7:11 b), that “his left arm is under her head, and his right embraces her” (Song of Solomon 8:3), and then leaves the scene on the arm of her beloved with that exclamation twice before uttered to the daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 8:4), and which this time has the force of farewell advice.85
2. The sketch here given of the inner progress of the action in the course of this act departs in several important particulars from the view of the later interpreters; but it appears to us to be the only one which corresponds with the language and the design of the poet. It is principally distinguished from the view of Delitzsch, which approaches it most nearly, by its taking the “little disturbances” and troubles in the life of the newly married pair, which this scholar also affirms, to be more serious and real, and not restricting them for instance barely to the tragic contents of that story of her dream (Song of Solomon 5:2-7) but letting the dissatisfaction of the chaste bride with the voluptuous conduct of the king and his court come properly forward as the actual cause of the clouded horizon of their married state. Our view too repels the assumption shared by Delitzsch with several recent commentators, but destitute of proof, that the description of Shulamith’s charms contained in Song of Solomon 7:2 ff. was occasioned by a “country-dance” which she was executing before him and the ladies of the court,—a hypothesis dubious in every point of view, and upon which Shulamith’s character could scarcely be freed from moral taint (for the dance in question, the “dance of Mahanaim” can scarcely be conceived of as other than an unchaste pantomime); and from this it would be but a single step to the notion of Renan that Solomon in this passage describes the charms of a danseuse of the harem, or to the similar one of Hitzig, that the king is here “cooing round a concubine.” Finally our view differs in one point at least from that of Delitzsch in respect to the division into scenes, inasmuch as it rejects the opening of a new scene or even act after Song of Solomon 6:9 (comp. in loc., as well as the Introduction, § 2, Rem. 2), and consequently takes the whole to be one act with three scenes, of which the first extends to Song of Solomon 6:3; the second to Song of Solomon 7:6; and the third from that to Song of Solomon 8:4. Against the assumption of a point of division after Song of Solomon 7:6 it has often indeed been urged (see e.g.Ew., Hitz., Weissb., and Hengstenb. too) that the passage Song of Solomon 7:2-10 forms a continuous description of the beauties of the beloved, beginning with her feet and ending with her nose and palate. But with the more general exclamation Song of Solomon 7:7, “How fair and how delightful art thou, O Love, among the joys!” this description evidently assumes an entirely different character from that it had before in Song of Solomon 5:2-6, where the individual members are enumerated very much as had been done previously (Song of Solomon 4:1-3 and Song of Solomon 6:5-7) only in inverted order, and certain comparisons are instituted with them. And what Shulamith says to her lover (Song of Solomon 7:10 ff.) in the closest connection with the second description (or rather interrupting it and proceeding of her own motion), is of such a nature that it can scarcely be conceived of as spoken in the presence of the “daughters of Jerusalem,” who had been present before. On which account Delitzsch’s assumption that a new scene begins with Song of Solomon 7:7, does not in fact deserve so unceremonious an epithet as that of “purely gratuitous,” which Hitzig bestows upon it. The assumption of Hitz., Böttcher, Ren. and Hengstenberg that a new scene does not begin until Song of Solomon 7:12, might with equal propriety be denominated gratuitous; and so might many other modes of division which differ from ours, e.g., that followed by Ewald, Döpke, Böttcher, Hitz., Hengstenb., etc., and in general by most of the recent writers according to which a new scene opens with Song of Solomon 7:2; that of Vaih. and others (particularly the older writers) which begins this new scene with Song of Solomon 7:1; the assertion of Ewald that Song of Solomon 6:10 to Song of Solomon 7:1 is a dialogue between the ladies of the court and Shulamith which is repeated by Solomon, etc. The question as to the beginning and end of the scenes in this act moreover appears to be of little consequence, inasmuch as the locality of the action, as has been before shown, does not change.86 The only matters involved are 1) an entrance at Song of Solomon 6:4 of Solomon, who had not been present before and 2) an exit or retirement of the chorus in the neighborhood of Song of Solomon 7:6, or Song of Solomon 7:11. And this retirement of the chorus is furthermore, as is shown by the epiphonema Song of Solomon 8:4, probably not to be conceived of as a total disappearance but simply as a withdrawal to the background, as toward the end of Act first (see above, p. 62).
3. Scene first. a.Shulamith’s story of her dream,Song of Solomon 5:2-8.—This like the similar passage Song of Solomon 3:1-5 must be a dream, which Shulamith had had shortly before, and which she now relates as indicative of the state of her mind. In opposition to the opinion that Shulamith is relating a real outward occurrence (Döpke, Hahn, Weissb., etc.) may be urged both the analogy of that prior passage and that such an affair is inconceivable in the history of Solomon’s love to Shulamith. It would have conflicted with decorum for that, which is narrated in vs. 2–5, to have actually taken place; and for the favorite of the king to have been beaten and robbed by the city night watch as is related Song of Solomon 5:7, would form the non plus ultra of historical improbability. Besides the visionary character of the experience described is indicated not only by the introductory words, when correctly explained, “I was sleeping but my heart was waking,” but also by several characteristic particulars, as Song of Solomon 5:3; Song of Solomon 5:6.
Song of Solomon 5:2. I was sleeping but my heart was waking.—Hitzig adduces a striking parallel to the thought that in a dream the heart or spirit is awake, while the rest of the person sleeps, from Cic. de divin. I. Song 30: “jacet corpus dormientis ut mortui, viget antem et vivit animus.”Weissbagh’s objections (p. 211) to this parallel as inadmissible amount to nothing. Comp. F. Splittgerber, Schlaf und Tod, nebst den damit zusammenhängenden Erscheinungen des Seelenlebens (Halle, 1866), p. 37 ff., espec. p. Song 43: “The soul is still in the body during sleep, though freer from it than in the state of wakefulness. It is in a condition of inner self-collection and concentration in order that it may afterwards operate with the greater force upon the course of things around it in its particular sphere of life.” And p. 71, “The soul sinks down in sleep to its innermost life-hearth, and loses itself there in that potential self-consciousness, which forms the proper essential quality of our spirits;—whilst in dreams it lifts itself to a comparatively higher region, that of the dawning consciousness, as it were, a region which stands considerably nearer the surface of the outward life and the daily consciousness, which moves upon it, and whose images therefore leave behind more impressive traces in our memory, which extend into our waking moments.” Hence Göschel not incorrectly remarks: “If sleep is to be conceived of as depression, (καταφορά), dreaming is elevation (αναφορά).” From this statement also it further appears why the view maintained by Grot. and Döpke, that אני ישׁנה ולבי ער denotes a condition midway between sleep and wakefulness, a semi-sleep, is superfluous; an opinion by the way, which has the meaning of the words against it, for “I slept” is not the same thing as “I was half asleep.” The heart stands here in its customary O. Test. sense of the centre and organ of the entire life of the soul, not barely for the intellectual faculties of the soul, the region of thought, as Hitzig maintains. Comp. further on Proverbs 2:10 (in this commentary.)—Hark, my beloved is knocking: Open to me, my sister, my dear, my dove, my perfect. Compared with the similar passage Song of Solomon 2:8 this fond quadruple address shows a considerable advance in the relation between the loving pair. The predicate “my fair one,” which there stands with “my dear” is here wholly wanting, and is supplied by the more intimate “my sister,” which since Shulamith’s marriage had become the common pet name, by which Solomon called her (see Song of Solomon 4:9-10; Song of Solomon 4:12, Song of Solomon 5:1). He had it is true already said “my dove” to her before their nuptials (Song of Solomon 2:14, comp. again Song of Solomon 6:9); but “my perfect” is an entirely new appellation (comp. likewise again Song of Solomon 6:9), which it is likely was first adopted after their marriage, and by which Solomon probably designed to express her innocence and purity (תַמָּה perfect, integra) in contrast with the character of his other wives, who were not so perfect and pure. For he can scarcely have employed this appellation unmeaningly, as “my angel” among us (vs.Döpke and Hitz.), [nor can it mean as Thrupp alleges “mine perfectly or entirely.”]—For my head is filled with dew, my locks with drops of the night. The copiousness of the nightly fall of dew in Palestine is attested also by the well-known history of Gideon’s fleece, Judges 6:38; comp. also Psa 110:3; 2 Samuel 17:12; Micah 5:6; Bar 2:25. That Shulamith sees her lover come to her window dripping with the dew of the night, and chilly too in consequence, might seem to imply that she thought of him as a shepherd, who as ἀγραυλῶν “abiding in the field” (Luke 2:8) had had to endure wet and cold, and hence had sought shelter in her dwelling. But to explain that representation it is sufficient to assume that the first half of her dream (Song of Solomon 5:2-4) transports her back to her home, or in other words that now in her dream, as she had done before when awake (see Song of Solomon 1:7; Song of Solomon 2:16; Song of Solomon 4:6) she transfers her lover without more ado from the sphere of royalty to that of a shepherd’s life. That in the latter half of her dream (Song of Solomon 5:6-7) she thinks of him again as living in the city, and herself too as wandering about in the city looking for him, is a feature of the most delicate psychological truth, which has its analogue in the story of her previous dream, Song of Solomon 3:1-4.
Song of Solomon 5:3. I have taken off my dress.כֻּתָּנְתִּי lit., “my tunic, my under garment.” She here too thinks herself back again in her former humble circumstances, where she commonly wore nothing but a tunic, χιτών (comp. Exodus 22:25 f.; 2 Samuel 13:18, also Mark 6:9,) and consequently in the night was entirely unclothed with the exception of the warm covering or upper garment (שִׂמְלָה, Ex. ibid., Genesis 9:23; Deuteronomy 22:17) under which she slept.—I have washed my feet: how shall I soil them? This is again another particular referring back to her former scanty mode of life in the country. She did not then wear the shoes, which since her elevation to be a prince’s daughter (Song of Solomon 7:2) she was now obliged to wear: on the contrary she ordinarily went barefoot in the house and in its immediate vicinity, except in long walks in the country when she wore sandals, (comp. Amos 2:6; Amos 8:6; Deuteronomy 29:4; Joshua 9:5). Hence the feet washed before going to bed might easily get dirty again on the floor of the house. The soiling of the feet is in the religious and ethical region a symbol of moral contamination from the petty transgressions of every-day life (John 13:10); and in the figurative language of dreams it is a well-known symbol of moral defilement reproved by the conscience and accompanied with shame, comp. (Schubert, Symbolik des Traums, 3d edit. p. 13, Splittberger, ibid. p. 128 ff.87). It is therefore from going out to her lover, this symbol of more intimate and enduring intercourse with him, that she apprehends the soiling of her feet. Hence the objections which she makes to complying with his request, and the cold, almost indifferent, if not exactly “rude” (Del.) tone of her answer.88
Song of Solomon 5:4. My beloved extended his hand through the window.מִן־הַחוֹר lit., from the hole,89i.e., through the latticed window (for that is certainly what is intended here, as appears from Song of Solomon 2:9, not a mere opening in the wall as Hitz. supposes) and from it toward me.90This gesture of extending (שׁלח) the hand in does not signify his intention to climb in through the window (Hitz.), nor his desire to gain access by forcibly breaking a hole through the wall (Hengstenberg after Ezekiel 8:7-8) [so Wordsworth], but is rather the expression of an urgent request to be admitted. The customary gesture of a petitioner is, it is true that of spreading forth his hands פָּרַשׂ כַּפָּיו (Exodus 9:29-31, etc.) But this could not be done in the present instance on account of the smallness of the window and the darkness of the night, and would besides have been unsuitable in relation to his beloved, for everywhere else it appears only as a usage in prayer. He must here, therefore, in craving admission adopt a gesture, which would at the same time express his longing to be united with his beloved (comp. Del. and Weissb. in loc.)—And I was inwardly excited over him; lit., “my bowels91 were agitated, sounded over him”—which according to Jeremiah 31:20; Isaiah 16:11; Isaiah 63:15 is equivalent to “I felt a painful sympathy for him.” This was of course because she had let him stand out in the wet and cold. According to the reading עָלַי (so the so-called Erfurt Ms., see de Rossiin loc.) the feeling expressed would be regret instead of pity: “my bowels were agitated on me” (i.e. in me, or over me, on my account—comp. Hitz. and Ew. in loc.) But this slenderly attested reading appears to have crept into the text from Psalms 42:6, 12, and for this reason to deserve no attention.
Song of Solomon 5:5. Up I rose to open to my beloved.אֲנִי stands after קַמְתִּי without special emphasis, according to the more diffuse style of speaking among the people. So Hitz. no doubt correctly, whilst Weissb., is certainly far astray in asserting that Shulamith means by this אֲנִי to emphasize “her entire person in contrast with any particular parts.”92And my hands dropped with myrrh and my fingers with liquid myrrh upon the handle of the bolt. That is to say, as my hands touched the handle of the bolt (or lock on the door of the house) in order to shove it back and open it, they dropped, etc.עַל כַּפּוֹת הַמַּנְעוּל, whose genuineness Meier suspects without any reason, plainly shows that the dropping of myrrh did not proceed from Shulamith’s anointing herself, as she rose and dressed, (as Magn. and Weissb. imagine) [so too Burrowes], but from the fact that her lover had taken hold of the door on the outside with profusely anointed hands, and so had communicated the fluid unguent of myrrh to the bolt inside likewise.93 This might have resulted from the unguent flowing in from the outer lock through the keyhole (Hitz.), or some drops of myrrh from the hand of her lover inserted through the hole above the door, might have trickled down upon the inner lock, which was directly beneath (Del). Too accurate an explanation of the affair seems inadmissible from the indefinite dreamlike character of the whole narrative. But at any rate an anointing of the outer lock of the door by the lover on purpose is not to be thought of (with Less., Döpke, Ew., Vaih., etc.) because though classic parallels94 may be adduced for this “silent homage of love,” none can be brought from oriental antiquity.—מוֹר עוֹבֵר is not “overflowing myrrh,”95i.e., dealt out in copious abundance (Ew.), but myrrh exuding or flowing out of itself in contrast with that which is solidified and gum-like, σμύρνα στακτή in contrast with σμ. πλαστή (Theophr. Hist. Plant. 9, 4); comp. מרֹ דְּרוֹרExo 30:23, as well as above on Song of Solomon 1:13.
Song of Solomon 5:6. I opened to my beloved, comp. on 5a.—And my beloved had turned away, was gone. My soul failed when he spoke. That is, before, when he was speaking to me through the window (Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 5:4), my breath for-sook me, my soul almost went out of me.96 It is consequently a supplementary remark, whose principal verb, however, is not necessarily to be taken as a pluperfect (vs. Döpke).—I sought him but I did not find him; I called him but he did not answer me. With the first of these lines comp. Song of Solomon 3:2 b; with both together Proverbs 1:28; Proverbs 8:17.
Song of Solomon 5:7. Found me then the watchmen,etc. Comp. Song of Solomon 3:3, Hitz. correctly: “In her previous dream the watchmen make no reply to her question; here without being questioned they reply by deeds.”—Took my veil off from me.רָדִיד (from רָדַד spread out, disperse, make thin) is according to Isaiah 3:23 a fine light material thrown over the person like a veil, such as was worn by noble ladies in Jerusalem; comp. Targ. on Genesis 24:65; Genesis 38:14 where רדידא represents the Heb. צָנִיף.97נָֽשְׂאוּ מֵעָלַי certainly means not a bare “lifting” (Meier), but a forcible tearing off and taking away of this article of dress; else this expression would not form with the preceding “they struck me, wounded me,” the climax, which the poet evidently intends.—The watchmen of the walls; not the subject of the immediately preceding clause (Weissb.), but a repetition of the principal subject which stands at the beginning of the verse. In her complaint she naturally comes back to the ruffians who had done all this to her, the villainous watchmen.—“Watchmen of the walls,” whose functions relate as in this instance to the interior of the city, and who, therefore, were not appointed principally with a view to the exterior circuit walls, occur also Isaiah 62:6.
Song of Solomon 5:8. I adjure you,etc. For this expression, as well as the masc. form of address, comp. on Song of Solomon 2:7.—What shall ye tell him? So correctly Ew., Heiligstedt, Del., Hengstenb. etc.; for although מָה sometimes expresses an earnest negative or prohibition, and might therefore be synonymous with אִם in Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5, yet the translation “do not tell him that I am sick of love” (Weissb. and others) yields a less natural sense than the one given above, according to which Shulamith seeks to induce her lover to a speedy return by the intelligence of her being sick of love. And in fact she connects a charge of this purport to the daughters of Jerusalem immediately with the narrative of her dream, because this had already evidenced in various ways that she had an almost morbid longing for her lover (see especially Song of Solomon 5:4, b; Song of Solomon 5:6-7.)
4. Continuation. b. Shulamith’s description of her lover, Song of Solomon 5:9-16
Song of Solomon 5:9. What is thy beloved more than (any other) beloved, thou fairest among women? This question of the daughters of Jerusalem which serves in an admirable way to connect what precedes with the following description of the beauty of her lover, springs from the assumption readily suggested by Song of Solomon 5:2-4, that Shulamith’s lover was some other than Solomon; an assumption admitted without scruple by the voluptuous ladies of the court, in spite of their knowledge of the fact that Shulamith had shortly before given her hand to the king as her lawful husband. It is therefore a question of real ignorance and curiosity,98 which they here address to Shulamith, not the mere show of a question with the view of leading her to the enthusiastic praise of the king who was well known to the ladies of the court and beloved by them likewise (Del.); and quite as little was it a scornful question (Döpke, Meier) or reproachful (Magn.) or one involving but a gentle reproof (Hitz.)—against these last opinions the words “fairest among women” are decisive.
Song of Solomon 5:10. My beloved is white and ruddy, distinguished above ten thousand. This general statement precedes the more detailed description of the beauties of her lover, which then follows Song of Solomon 5:11-15 in ten particulars, at the close of which (Song of Solomon 5:16) stands another general eulogium.—The aim of the entire description is evidently to depict Solomon, as one who is without blemish from head to foot, as is done 2 Samuel 14:25-26 in the case of his brother Absalom. A commendation of his fair color, or his good looks in general fitly stands at the head of the description.—צַח lit., “dazzling white;” stronger than לָבָן; an expression which may be applied to a king’s son, but scarcely to a simple young shepherd from the country. His face might very well be called ruddy or brownish (as 1 Samuel 16:12) but scarcely dazzling white; and it is to the face that the predicate mainly refers, as a comparison with Song of Solomon 5:14-15 shows.—To white as the fundamental color is added the blooming red. (אָדוֹם) of the cheeks and other parts of the face both here in the case of Solomon and Lamentations 4:7 in the description of the fair Nazarites of Jerusalem, which reminds one of the passage before us.—“Distinguished above ten thousand,” lit. “from ten thousand, or a myriad” (רְבָבָה), i.e., surpassing an immense number in beauty. Comp. Psalms 91:7, as well as the plur. רבבות Psalms 3:7; Deuteronomy 33:17.—דָּגוּל from דֶּגֶל “standard, banner,” as in Lat. insignis from signum, denotes one that is conspicuous as a standard amidst a host of other men, signalized, distinguished above others, and מִן is again comparative as in Song of Solomon 5:9. The expression is evidently a military one like נִגְדָּלוֹת Song of Solomon 6:4; Song of Solomon 6:10.
Song of Solomon 5:11. His head is pure gold. The comparison is not directed to the color of the face, as though this was to be represented as a reddish brown (Hitz.), but to the appearance of the head as a whole. From the combined radiance of his fresh and blooming countenance, and of his glossy black hair adorned with a golden crown, it presented to the beholder at a distance the appearance of a figure made of solid gold with a reddish lustre. כֶּתֶם. according to Gesen., Hengstenb., and others, equivalent to that which is hidden, concealed = gold that is treasured up; according to Dietrich and others from כתם “to be solid, dense,” hence massive gold; according to Hitz., Weissb., etc., equivalent to that which is reddish, of red lustre, which latter explanation is favored by Arabic parallels and by the expression נכתם Jeremiah 2:22. The adjective פָּז connected with it designates this gold as carefully refined and purified (comp. the Hoph. part. מוּפָּז with the like sense 1 Kings 10:18).—His locks are hill upon hill. תַּלְתַּלִּים may be thus explained with Del., Weissb., etc., by deriving it from תָּלַל to raise, heap up (whence תֵּלִ a hill and תָּלוּל high, Ezekiel 17:22). Commonly “palm branches,” (“flexible or curling palm branches” from תלל in the sense of “wavering or swaying to and fro”); or “pendent, hanging locks” (from תלהsuspendit—so Hengstenb.); or “pendulous clusters of grapes” (as though תלתלּים זַלְזַלִּיםIsa 18:5—so Hitz.). The comparison reminds us somewhat of that with the flock of goats on Mount Gilead (Song of Solomon 4:2; Song of Solomon 6:5); which was also designed to set forth his long curling locks piled one on another.—Black as a raven. Parallels to this simile from Arab, poets, see in Hartmann, Ideal weibl. Schönheit, I. 45 f., comp. Magnus on Song of Solomon 4:1 (p. 85) and Döpkein loc. The latter adduces particularly two verses of Motanebbi (from J. v. Hammer, p. 11):
“Black as a raven and thick as midnight gloom,
Which of itself, with no hairdresser, curls.”
Song of Solomon 5:12. His eyes like doves by brooks of water. On the comparison of the eyes with doves comp. Song of Solomon 1:15. In this case it is not doves in general, but particularly doves sitting “by brooks of water” (lit. water-channels or beds) to which the eyes are likened doubtless in order to represent the lustrous brightness and the moisture of the white of the eye by a figure like that employed Song of Solomon 7:5, and to place it in fitting contrast with the iris whose varied hues resemble the plumage of the dove.—Bathing in milk, sitting on fulness. A further description of the relation of the “doves” to the “brooks of water,” i.e. of the iris (with the pupil) to the white that surrounds it. These water-brooks here appear to be filled up with milk instead of water, and the doves answering to the irides of both eyes are represented as bathing in this milk and accordingly as “sitting on” or “by fulness”—in which there is an allusion likewise to the convex form of the eye (correctly the Septuag., Vulg., Syr., and after them Hengstenb., Weissbach, etc.). מִלֵּאת, lit. “fulness,” an idea undefined in itself, is here limited by the preceding אפּיקי מים and therefore means “the fulness of the water-courses, that which fills them up” (Weissb.); and the עַל which stands before it, indicates the same sense substantially of sitting by this fulness, as is expressed by the same preposition before אפיקי מים (comp. Psalms 1:3). Others take מִלֵּאת in the sense of “setting” as of a gem (comparing מִלֻּאַת אֶבֶןExo 28:17) and hence translate “enthroned in a setting” (Magn.) or “jewels finely set” (Böttch., Del., preceded by Ibn Ezra, Jarch., Rosenm., Winer). But in opposition to this may be urged both the absence of אֶבֶן after the indefinite מלאת, and the prep. עַל instead of which בְּ might rather have been expected. More correctly Cocceius and Döpke, who explain it “over the setting” i.e. “over the edge of the brook,” though still they do violence to the natural meaning of מלאת.
Song of Solomon 5:13. His cheeks like a bed of balm. The tert. compar. is not barely their delightful fragrance, but likewise the superb growth of beard upon his cheeks. Shulamith would scarcely have compared beardless cheeks with a bed of balm, i.e. a garden plot covered with plants. That she likens the two cheeks to but one bed may be explained from the fact that the beard, which likewise surrounds the chin and lips, unites them into one whole, which like the borders in many gardens has its two parallel sides (comp. Hitzig). The punctuation עֲרוּגתֹ, which the ancient versions seem to have followed (e. g, Vulg. “sicut areolæ aromatum”) and which Weissb. still prefers, accordingly appears to be less suitable than the sing. עֲרוּגַת here retained by the Masorites; whilst the plur. עֲרוּגוֹת is unquestionably the true reading in Song of Solomon 6:2.—Towers of spice plants. The expression מִגְדְּלוֹת מֶרְקָחִים is doubtless so to be understood, as explanatory apposition to עֲרוּגַת הַבּשֶֹׁם and the bed of balm is accordingly to be conceived of as a plot embracing several “towers” or pyramidal elevations of aromatic herbs, by which the rich luxuriance of his beard and perhaps also its fine curly appearance is most fitly set forth (Ew., Delitzsch, Hengstenb., etc.). We can see no ground for the scruples, which are alleged to stand in the way of this explanation, or why we must with J. Cappellus suppose a reference to “boxes of unguents” (pyxides unguentorum) or with Hitzig, Friedr., Weissb., follow the Septuag. (φύουσαι μυρεψικά) in reading the part. מְגַדְּלוֹת. The fem. plur. מִגְדְּלוֹת from מִגְדָּל is also attested by Song of Solomon 8:10. The custom of raising fragrant plants on mounds of earth of a pyramidal or high tower-like shape, receives sufficient confirmation from Song of Solomon 4:6 (the “mountain of myrrh” and the “hill of frankincense”). And the whole comparison appears to be entirely appropriate, if we but think of the beard on the chin and cheeks of her lover as not merely a soft down (Hitz.) but as a vigorous, finely cultivated and carefully arranged growth of hair. And in this we are justified in precise proportion as we rid ourselves of the notion of a youthful lover of the rank of a shepherd, and keep in view king Solomon in the maturity of middle life as the object of the description before us. Besides the circumstance that they were in the habit of perfuming the beard, as is still done to a considerable extent in the east (see Arvieux, R., p. 52; della Valle, II. 98; Harmer, Beobacht., II. 77, 83; Reiske on Tarafa, p. 46) may have contributed its share to the particular form of the comparison.—His lips lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.Of course it is not white but red lilies, lilies of the color, denoted Song of Solomon 4:3 by the “crimson thread,” to which the lips of her lover are here likened. The “dropping of liquid myrrh” (comp. on Song of Solomon 5:3) refers not to the lilies (Syr., Rosenm.) but directly to the lips. It serves to represent the lovely fragrance of the breath, which issues from her lips (comp Song of Solomon 7:9); for the “loveliness of his speech” (Hengstenb., comp. Targ.) is not mentioned till Song 5:316.
Song of Solomon 5:14. His hands golden rods. Others, as Coccei., Gesen., (Thesaur. p. 287), Rosenm., Döpke, Vaih., [so Eng. Ver.], take גְּלִילֵי זָהָב to be gold rings, which they refer to the bent or closed hand, with allusion also to the fingernails colored with alhenna as compared with the jewels of the rings. Very arbitrarily, because 1) the curved or hollow hand must necessarily have been denoted by כַף; 2) the proper expression for ring would not have been גָּלִיל but חוֹתָם or טַבַּעַת; 3) מְמֻלָּאִים could no more express the idea of being “set with anything,” than turquoises standing with it could yield a figure even remotely appropriate for yellow-stained finger nails. גָּלִיל is rather roller, cylinder, rod, and the expression “golden rods” is applied primarily to the individual fingers with reference to their reddish lustre and finely rounded shape (comp. Song of Solomon 5:11 a) and then by synecdoche to the hands consisting of the fingers.99—Encased in turquoises. Whatever precious stone may be intended by תַּרְשִׁישׁ, whether the chrysolite of the ancients (see Septuag.,Exodus 28:17; Exodus 39:13) which seems to answer to our topaz; or what is now called the turquoise (a light-blue semi-precious stone); or the onyx, which Hitzig proposes (though this was called שֹׁהַםGen 2:12, etc.), it is at all events in bad taste to understand by this encasing of the fingers in costly jewels anything but actual jewel ornaments with which his hands glittered, agreeably to the well-known custom in the ancient East of wearing many rings. (Comp. Winer, Realwörterb., Art., “Ringe” and “Siegelring”). The nails in and of themselves differed too little in color and lustre from the fingers and hands as a whole, to admit of their being compared with precious stones; and staining them with alhenna (comp. on Song of Solomon 1:14) if practised at all in the time of Solomon, was most likely a custom restricted to women and which could scarcely have been likewise in use amongst men. On מִלֵּא in the sense of “encasing” (lit., to fill in the encasement or enclosure) comp. Exodus 28:17; Exodus 31:5; Exodus 35:33. “Golden rods encased in turquoise” or “with turquoise” are properly such rods filled into the body of jewels here named i.e. surrounded and glittering with them (comp. Weissb. in loc.).—His body a figure of ivory, veiled with sapphires.מֵעָיו here, where the exterior parts of the body only are enumerated, is certainly not “his bowels, his inwards” (Hengstenberg), but “his body,” comp. Song of Solomon 7:3, as well as Daniel 2:32, where מֵעִים also stands as a synonym of בֶּטֶן. It is only the pure white and the smooth appearance of the body, i.e. of the trunk generally, including the breast, thighs, etc., which can be intended by the comparison with an עֵשֶׁת שֵׁן a “figure of ivory” (עֵשֶׁת sing, of עַשְׁתּוֹת [but see Gesen. Lex. s. v.—Tr.] forms, thoughts, Job 12:5), a comparison in which that ivory work of art restored by Solomon according to 1 Kings 10:18 may have been before the mind of the speaker. The sapphires veiling the statue are naturally a figure of the dress of sapphire-blue or better still of the dress confined by a splendid girdle studded with sapphires. On the latter assumption the apparent “unsuitableness of the comparison” vanishes, which certainly would have to be admitted (Hitz.) if the sapphire referred to the azure color of the dress. For it would evidently be too far-fetched, with Vaih. to refer the sapphire to the “blue veins appearing through the splendid white skin of the body,” and this would neither comport with the deep blue color of the sapphire or lapis lazuli, nor with the expression “veiled, covered (מְעֻלֶּפֶת) with sapphires.”—There is accordingly an indirect proof of the royal rank and condition of Shulamith’s lover in the representations of this verse likewise, especially in its allusions to the ornaments of precious stones on the hands and about the waist of the person described.
Song of Solomon 5:15. His legs columns of white marble. The figure of an elegant statue is here continued with little alteration. To understand the שׁוֹקַיִם simply of the lower part of the legs and to assume that Shulamith omits to mention the יְרֵכַיִםi.e. the upper part of the legs from a fine sense of decorum (Hitz.) is inadmissible, because שׁוֹקַיִם according to passages like Proverbs 26:7; Isaiah 47:2 appears to include the upper part of the leg, whilst יְרֵכַיִם according to Genesis 24:2; Exodus 28:42 : Daniel 2:32, etc., denotes rather the loins or that part of the body where the legs begin to separate. Further, the mention of the legs and just before of the body could only be regarded as unbecoming or improper by an overstrained prudishness, because the description which is here given avoids all libidinous details and is so strictly general as not even to imply that she had ever seen the parts of the body in question in a nude condition. It merely serves to complete the delineation of her lover, which Shulamith sketches by a gradual descent from head to foot, and moreover is to be laid to the account of the poet rather than to that of Shulamith, who is in every thing else so chaste and delicate in her feelings.—The legs are compared with “white marble” (שֵׁשׁ) principally on account of the lustrous color of their skin, not with reference to their solidity; for an Arabic poet (Amru b Kelth., Moal. 5:18) pictures even the legs of a girl as “pillars of marble and ivory;” and the figure of the marble column is also employed in a like sense by Greek poets and mythographers (comp. Vaih. in loc.). Set on bases of fine gold,viz., on the feet which are here named as the bases or pedestals of the columns (their יְסוֹד) without however going into any further description of them.100His aspect like Lebanon.מַרְאֶה not synonymous with קוֹמָה “stature” (Song of Solomon 7:8), but denoting his entire appearance, his whole figure and bearing comp. Song of Solomon 2:14. By this comparison with Lebanon his figure is characterized as majestically tall and impressive, comp. Jeremiah 46:18. There is probably no allusion to the “lordly look” which Lebanon bestows upon his beholders (vs.Rosenm., Magn.), and still less likelihood of a reference to the roots of the mountain penetrating deeply and extending widely in the earth as analogous to the “roots of her lover’s feet.” Job 13:27; Hosea 14:6 (vs.Hitz.).—Choice as the cedars; that is, stately and majestic as these giant trees which crown the summit of Lebanon.
Song of Solomon 5:16. His palate (is) sweets.חֵךְ is not the mouth for kissing (Magn., Böttch.) but the palate as an organ of speech, as in Job 6:30; Job 31:30; Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 8:7. Hitz. correctly: “It is speech which first betrays that the beautiful body described Song of Solomon 5:10-15 has a soul;” whilst Weissb. in asserting that the palate is here regarded as an organ of breathing like the lips Song of Solomon 5:13, fails to perceive this advance from the corporeal to the spiritual and creates an unhandsome repetition. On the figure comp. Proverbs 16:21; Proverbs 27:9.—And he is altogether precious.כֻּלּוֹ “all of him” combines in one the sum total of the ten corporeal excellencies enumerated in Song of Solomon 5:11-15 together with the last named endowment of a spiritual nature, and thus completes the portrait of her lover, whereupon there follows the general reference to the preceding description: “This is my beloved, and this my friend, ye daughters of Jerusalem.”
See Song of Solomon 8:1 for DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.
[Wicl., Mat.: The voice of the Church.]
The unmistakably close connection of these words with what follows “Hark! my beloved knocking!” gives to both the participles יְשֵׁנָה and עֵר the sense of imperfects. Hitzig correctly says: “The connection makes the two partic. as well as דּוֹכֵּק express the relative past (comp. Jeremiah 38:26; Exodus 5:8); and this first part of the verse is therefore=בַּחֲלוֹמִי Genesis 41:17.”
Lit. “The sound of my beloved knocking,” etc. Comp. Song of Solomon 2:8. דּוֹכֵּק is not in apposition to דּוֹדִי, but the predicate, and for this reason is without the article; comp. Genesis 3:8 [see Green’s Chrestom., p. 95, on this passage]. Hitzig correctly: “קוֹל is just the knocking, and is known to be קוֹל דּוֹדָהּ by the accompanying words.”
[Mat.: Christ to the Church.]
[Cov., Mat., Cran., Bish.: darling. Genev., Eng. Ver.: undefiled.]
 שֶׁ· before ראשִׁי assigns the reason as אֲשֶׁר Ecclesiastes 6:12, or as כִּי Song of Solomon 2:11.
[Mat.: The voice of the spousess.]
The prolonged form אֵיכָכָה instead of אֵיךְ or אֵיכָה serves to make the question more emphatic, like our “How could I. …? How can you ask me to. …?”
[Mat.: The voice of the Church speaking of Christ.]
[Wicl., Mat.: hole. Genev., Eng. Ver.: hole of the door.]
[Genev.: Mine heart was affectioned toward him. Marg. as Eng. Ver.: my bowels were moved.]
 חמק cognate with חבק “to embrace” is substantially synonymous with סבב “to turn;” comp. the Hith. in the sense of “turning and forsaking,” Jeremiah 31:22, as well as the substantive חַמּוּקִים “that which is turned or rounded,” Song of Solomon 7:2 below. “He had turned away” is now strengthened by adding the synonyme עבר to express his total disappearance. Symmachus correctly: ἀπονεν̓σαζ , and still better the Vulg.: “at ille declinaverat atque transierat;” for the pluperfect sense of the verbs is demanded by the context.
Comp. Genesis 42:8 : יָצָא לֵב. [Cov., Mat.: Now like as aforetime, when he spake, my heart could not refrain. Wicl., Dow.: melted. Burrowes: sunk in consequence of what he had said. Noyes, better: I was not in my senses while he spake.]
Others read instead of &בְּדַבְּרוֹ בְּדָבְרוֹ and either explain this from the Arabic as equivalent to בְּעָבְרוֹ “at his going away, at his departure” (Ew., etc.) or (comparing the Arab. dabra אַחֲרֵי “behind him,” (Hitz.) with which Umbreit’s reference of בְּדַֹבְּרוֹ to a verb דִּבֶּר “to follow” (“I went out to follow him”) substantially agrees. But all these explanations, as well as that of Weissbach, according to which we should read בִּדְכָרוֹ “on his account, for his sake,” lack the requisite confirmation in point of language.
[Mat.: The Church complaineth of her persecutors.]
[Wicl.: mantle. Cov., Mat.: garment. Cran., Bish.: kerchief. Dow.: cloak.]
[Mat.: The spousess speaketh to her companions.]
[Wicl.: The voice of friends saith to the Church. Which is thy lemman (lover) of the loved? Mat.: The voice of the Synagogue. Who is thy love above other lovers—or what can thy love do more than other loves?]
 מִדּוֹד beyond any one who is a beloved, i.e., more excellent than any other. דּוֹד here simply states the idea in a general form, and מִן is comparative, expressing the superiority of one thing above another, as in 10 b.
[Wicl.: The voice of the Church of Christ saith to the friends. Mat.: The Church answering of Christ.]
[Wicl.: as bunches of palms. Dow.: as the branches of palm trees. Genev.: curled. Eng. Ver.: bushy. Thrupp in imitation of the reduplicated form in Hebrew: flow flowingly.]
[Cov., Mat.: brown as the evening.]
[Cov., Mat.: remaining in a plenteous place. Cran., Bish.: set like pearls in gold. Genev.: remain by the full vessels. Dow.: sit beside the most full streams. Eng. Ver.: fitly set; Marg.: sitting in fullness, that is, fitly placed and set as a precious stone in the foil of a ring.]
[Cov., Mat., Cran., Bish.: His cheeks are like a garden bed wherein the apothecaries plant all manner of sweet things.]
[Cov., Mat.: His hands are full of gold rings and precious stones; his body is like the pure ivory, decked over with sapphires. Cran., Bish.: his hands are like gold rings having enclosed the pleasant stone of Tharsis. Dow.: his hands wrought round of gold, full of hyacinths. Genev.: his hands as rings of gold set with the chrysolite.]
 בָּחוּר “chosen, excellent” (not “young man,” as Targ., Magn., Ew., Böttch. have it) is evidently intended to indicate the pre-eminence of the cedars above all other trees, their surpassing height and stately form. Comp. דָּגוּל Song of Solomon 5:10 above, which is substantially synonymous, as well as the expressions מִבְחַר אֲרָזִים Jeremiah 22:7, and מִבְחוֹר בְּרשִׁים (together with קוֹמַת אֲרָזִים) 2 Kings 19:23. This word moreover belongs to מַרְאֵהוּ as its predicate; for it is too remote to refer it to the suffix attached to this word, or to a new subject derived from it (Hitz.).
[Cov., Mat., Dow.: his throat. Cran., Bish.: the words of his mouth. Genev., Eng. Ver.: his mouth; Marg.: palate.]
On the plur. מַמְתַּקִּים “sweetnesses” see Ew. Lehrb. § 179, a [Green’s Heb. Gram. § 201, 1, a and c].
 מַחֲמַדִּים lit. “preciousnesses, desirable things;” comp. Joel 4:5; Hosea 9:16; 2 Chronicles 36:19.
On the repeated זֶה comp. Genesis 3:15.
[Wicl.: The voice of holy souls, of the church. Mat.: The voice of the synagogue speaking to the church.]
[Wicl., Mat.: The voice of the church.]
In regard to עֲרוּגוֹת בֶּשֹׁם comp. on Song of Solomon 5:13 above.
[Cov., Mat., Cran., Bish.: that he may refresh himself.]
[Thrupp: Note in the Hebrew of this verse not only the rhyme between בגנים and שושנים, but also the resemblance in sound between לערוגות and לרעות.Cov., Mat.: flowers. Cran.: roses.]
[Wicl., Mat.: The voice of Christ to the church. Wicl.: Fair thou art, my love, sweet and fair as Jerusalem. Cov., Mat.: Thou art pleasant, O my love, even as loveliness itself; thou art fair as Jerusalem, glorious as an army of men with their banners.]
[Good, Percy, Taylor, Thrupp: dazzling.]
 נִגְדָּלוֹת lit., provided with a דֶּגֶל banner, gathered about a standard (comp. Numbers 1:52; Numbers 2:2; Psalms 20:6); not, “distinguished, select,” as Weissb. misled by the affinity between this expression and דָּגוּל Song of Solomon 5:10 supposes. The fem. נִגְדָּלוֹת is not to be explained by a מַחֲנוֹת understood (Ibn Ezra), but it “expresses the idea of a collective, as in אֹרְחָה and גּוֹלָה” (Hitz.).
 Weissb. preposterously: הֵסֵבִּי עֵינִַיךְ מִנֶּגְדִּי is equivalent to “turn thine eyes away from thee to me,” and then the only suitable sense in the second clause must be “thine eyes encourage me.” [So Thrupp: מִנֶּגֶד “opposite, over-against.” The full meaning is “Thou who art standing over against me, bend thou thine eyes so as directly to meet mine.”] Against this excessively artificial and over-refined interpretation of מִנֶּגֶד one single parallel is decisive, Isaiah 1:16 : הָסִירוּ — מנֶּגֶד עֵינַי “put away—from before mine eyes.”
The Hiph. הרהיכ from רהב “to rage, be violent,” most probably expresses a sense corresponding to the predicate אֲיֻמָּה, consequently not “to encourage, inspire courage,” as in Psalms 138:3, but “to assault, violently excite, take by storm.” [Cov., Mat.: make me too proud. Cran., Bish.: have set me on fire. Dow.: make me flee away. Eng. Ver.: overcome me; Marg.: puffed me up. Thrupp.: swell my heart with pride.]
Verbally corresponding with Song of Solomon 4:2, except in the more special הַקְצוּבוֹת “shorn” instead of the more general expression הָרְחֵלִים “lambs” used here. [This is the meaning of the word in Arabic, but in Heb. it means “ewes, sheep.”]
The numeral אַחַת one, forming a marked contrast with the sixty, eighty, etc., receives its proper limitation from the added הִיא: one she, i.e., she only. [It is better to regard הִיא as the copula like הֵמָּה in Song of Solomon 6:8. Green’s Heb. Gram. § 258, 2]. That אֲחֹתִי “my sister” which stands with יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי “my dove, my perfect” in the parallel passage Song of Solomon 5:2, can have influenced the selection of אַחַת “one” in this place, is very improbable (vs. Weissb.).
 אַחַת הִיא cannot be taken here otherwise than it was before; the predicate is, therefore, wanting after this expression, as well as after the parallel בָּרָה הִיא, and hence the predicate of the preceding clause, viz: “my dove, my perfect” must be supplied here again. The meaning therefore is “only one, she alone is my dove, my darling; she alone of her mother (i.e. her only daughter), she as separated or chosen of her that bare her.” So correctly Weissb. in opposition to Hitz. who takes אַחַת the second time as the predicate and הִיא as subject: “she is the only one of her mother.”
On בָּרָה electa (Vulg.) from ברר “to separate,” comp. Ezekiel 20:38; Jeremiah 23:28. [Thrupp: For the same reason that תמתי lit., “my perfect one” may be rendered “my own one” may כרה, lit. “pure one” be rendered “sole darling.” She is her parent’s “pure one”; and this would in fact be the best rendering, had not the word “pure” in its original sense become somewhat antiquated.]
[Mat.: The voice of the Synagogue. Wicl.: Who is she, this that goeth forth as the morrow tide, rising fair as the moon, chosen as the sun? Cov., Mat.: Who is she, this that peepeth out as the morning? fair as the moon, excellent as the sun.]
[Good, Moody Stuart and others: dazzling as the stars.]
[Wicl.: The voice of the church, of the synagogue, Mat.: Christ to the synagogue. Cov., Mat., Cran.: I went down into the nut-garden to see what grew by the brooks, and to look if the vineyard flourished and if the pomegranates were shot forth.]
[Castell., Parkhurst: pruned garden as if אְגֶוֹז were from גָּזַז. Thrupp without authority proposes to substitute הַגּוֹי.]
[Mat.: The voice of the synagogue. Cov., Mat.: Then the chariots of the prince of my people made me suddenly afraid. Cran., Bish.: I knew not that my soul had made me the chariot of the people that be under tribute. Dow.: My soul troubled me for the chariots of Aminadab. Genev.: I knew nothing, my soul set me as the chariots of my noble people. Eng. Ver.: My soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib; Marg.: Set me on the chariots of my willing people. Thrupp: “All translations which introduce a preposition before ‘the chariots’—‘on,’ ‘to,’ ‘among,’ ‘on account of,’ etc., are grammatically untenable.” He renders: my soul had made me the chariots of my people the Freewilling.] נַכְּשִׁי שָׂמַתְנִי limits the meaning of the preceding לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, though there is no necessity of supplying כִּי. The relation is rather such that the preceding principal clause is logically subordinated to the limiting and explanatory clause annexed to it, and thus yields some such sense as “without my knowing it, unawares my desire, etc;” comp. Job 9:5, Isaiah 47:11 as well as Hitz. and Hengstenb. in loc. נַכְּשִׁי—which can neither be the object, nor in apposition with the subject of יָדַעְתִּי—might it is true, have the sense of “I myself” (comp. Hosea 9:4; Job 9:21; Psalms 3:3, etc.), but as the subject of the verb שָׂמַתְנִי obtains the sense of “desire, longing,” which is attested by Genesis 23:8; Job 23:13; 2 Kings 9:15, etc.
[Wicl.: The voice of the church to the faith of the neophyte. Mat.: The voice of the church calling again the synagogue.]
[Wicl.: The voice of Christ to the church, of the synagogue. Mat.: Christ to the synagogue. What pleasure have ye more in the Shulamite than when she danceth among the men of war?]
[Wicl., Mat.: The voice of Christ to the church. Mat.: O how pleasant are thy treadings with thy shoes.
For חַמּוּקִים and its root חמק turn, revolve, see on Song of Solomon 5:6, and for יְרֵכַיִם thighs, on Song of Solomon 5:15.
[Thrupp: Note the homœophony in the Hebrew.] אַגַן הַסַּהַר “bowl of roundness” is of course equivalent to “round bowl,” see Ewald, § 287 f. [Green’s Heb. Gram. § 254, 6, a] The root סהר, as appears from the Samaritan, is synonymous with סחר “to go round, surround;” comp. on the one hand סֹחֵרָה “shield,” Psalms 91:14, and on the other hand סֹהַר castle, fortress, tower; also שַׂהֲרוֹן “little moon,” and the Talmudic סָהָר wall, fence.
[Wick.: Never needing drink. Con., Mat.: which is never without drink. Dow.: Never wanting cups. E. V.; which wanteth not liquor.]
 סוּגָה Aramæism for שׂוּגָה; literally “hedged in lilies.”
[Genev.: scarlet. Eng. Ver. Marg.: crimson.]
 רְהָטִים elsewhere “channels, water-troughs” are here manifestly the flowing ringlets or locks of her hair, comp. the Lat. coma fluens. [Cov., Mat.: like the king’s purple folden up in plates. Cran.: like purple and like a king going forth with his guards about him. Dow.: as a king’s purple tied to water-pipes. Genev.: the king is tied in the rafters; with the marginal note “he delighteth to come near thee and to be in thy company.” Eng. Ver.: the king is held in the galleries. Wordsworth: the king is bound or tied at the water-troughs, i.e. dispenses grace through the appointed channels.]
[Wicl.: Thou most dearworth. Cov., Mat.: my darling. Genev.: O my love.]
[Thrupp, who is quite too fond of ingenious emendations: “O daughter of allurements. We may follow the Syriac and Aquila in dividing the בתענגים of our Hebrew text into the two words בת ענגים.”]
[Cov., Mat.: like the grapes.]
[Wicl.: Christ of the holy cross saith. Mat.: The spouse speaking of the cross.]
[Wicl., Dow.: fruits.]
[Wicl.: The voice of Christ to the church. Mat.: The spouse to the spousess.]
[Wicl.: The smell of thy mouth. Dow.: odor of thy mouth. Cov., Mat.: the smell of thy nostrils. Genev.: the savor of thy nose.]
[Wicl., Cov., Mat., Dow.: throat. Cran.: jaws. Bish., Genev, Eng. Ver.: the roof of thy mouth.]
[Wicl.: The church saith of Christ,—worthy to my love to drink, to the lips and to the teeth of him to chew. Cov., Mat.: this shall be pure and clear for my love; his lips and teeth shall have their pleasure. Cran,: which goeth straight unto my beloved and bursteth forth by the lips of the ancient elders. Bish.: which is meet for my best beloved, pleasant for his lips and for his teeth to chew. Genev.: which goeth straight to my well-beloved and causeth the lips of the ancient to speak, Dow.: worthy for my beloved to drink and for his lips and his teeth to ruminate. Eng. Ver.: that goeth down Sweetly (Marg. straightly) causing the lips of those that are asleep (Marg. the ancient) to speak, Thrupp: “In so difficult a passage some variations of text must be expected; and for שפּתי ישנים ‘the lips of the sleepers,’ the LXX, Syriac and Aquila apparently concur in reading שפתי ושנים ‘my lips and teeth;’ to which reading the versions of Symmachus and Jerome also lend partial and indirect support. It has, however, the disadvantage of being ungrammatical, the true Hebrew for ‘my lips and teeth’ being שפתי ושני. Moreover, the received text is decidedly upheld by the Targum, and yields a more appropriate meaning.”]
On הוֹלֵךְ לְמֵישָׁרִים lit. “going according to evenness” (in an even, smooth way) comp. the similar הִתְהַלֵךְ בְּמֵישָׁרִים Proverbs 23:31; also Isaiah 8:6.
On אֵלַי עָלַי comp. Proverbs 29:5; Psalms 36:3. [Wicl.: I to my love and to me the turning of him. Dow.: I to my beloved and his turning is towards me. Cov., Mat., Cran.: There will I turn me unto my love, and he shall turn him unto me. Bish.: I am my beloved’s and he shall turn him unto me. Genev.: I am my well-beloved’s (Eng. Ver.: beloved’s) and his desire is toward me. Ginsburg: “It is for me to desire him. עָלַי lit. on me, i. e. it is upon me as a duty, thus 2 Samuel 18:11; Proverbs 7:14.”]
[Wicl.: The voice of the church to Christ. Mat.: The church speaking to Christ.]
On יָצָא הַשָׂדֶה of going out of the city into the open country comp. also 1 Samuel 20:6.
“To start early (הִשְׁכִּים) for the vineyards” i. e. to rise early and go to them, a constr. prægnans, comp. Ew. § 282, c. [Green’s Heb. Gram. § 272, 3. Wicl.: early rise we to the vine. Cov., Mat.: in the morning will we rise betimes and go see the vineyard.]
The Piel כִּתַּח is to be taken reflexively, “opened themselves” (Del., Hengstenb., Meier), perhaps also inchoatively, “whether they are opening, are on the point of bursting” (Ew., Heiligst., Vaih. etc.). For סְמָדַד comp. on Song of Solomon 2:13.
On אֶתֵּן אֶת־דּוֹדַי comp. Proverbs 29:17. [Wicl. omits. Cov., Mat., Cran. Bish., my breasts.]
[Wicl.: the mandrakes give their smell in our gates. All apples new and old, my love, I kept to thee. Cov., Mat.: there shall the mandragoras give their smell beside our doors; there, O my love, have I kept unto thee all manner of fruits both new and old.]
[Genev.: All sweet things.]
This last clause cannot be taken as an independent sentence (Döpke, Rosenm., Hengstenb.) for then the verb would have “new fruit” likewise for its object. אֲשֶׁד must be supplied and the resulting relative clause must only be connected with the last predicate יְשֵׁנִים (correctly Hitz.).
[Wicl., Mat.: The voice of the patriarchs speaking of Christ. Wicl.: Who to me giveth [Dow. shall give to me] thee my brother sucking the teats [Dow. breasts] of my mother, that I find thee alone without forth [Dow. I may find thee without] and kiss thee. Cov., Mat.: O that I might find thee without and kiss thee, whom I love as my brother, which sucked my mother’s breasts; and that thou wouldst not be offended if I took thee and brought thee, etc. Cran.:—and that thou shouldst not be despised. I will lead thee and bring thee, etc.]
On the conditional clause without אִם, and with nothing to mark the apodosis, comp. Hosea 8:12; Proverbs 24:10; Judges 11:36.
 גַם yet, nevertheless, see Ew. § 341, a, [Gesen. Lex. in verb.]
On בּוּז see Song of Solomon 7:7 below, Proverbs 6:30. Instead of לִי me some inferior MSS. read לָךְ thee, which however seems far less appropriate, and has doubtless been repeated here from the close of the preceding verse. All the ancient versions read לִי. [Genev.: they should not despise thee; Marg. me].
[Wicl., Dow., Genev.: Thou shalt teach me. Cov., Mat., Cran., Bish.: that thou mightest teach me. Eng. Ver.: who would instruct me.]
This exclamation differs from that in Song of Solomon 2:6, with which in other respects it agrees verbatim, merely in the omission of לְ after תַּחַת, Just as תַּחַת stands alone also in Song of Solomon 7:5 b, so likewise in Exodus 24:4; Exodus 32:19. We have already seen Song of Solomon 6:3; Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 7:4, etc. that the poet does not like exact verbal repetitions of formulas before used.
[Wicl., Mat.: The voice of Christ.] Repeated with some freedom from Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5. In place of אִם there, a prohibitory מָה is introduced here (see Ewald, § 325, b, comp. also on Song of Solomon 5:8 above) [Ainsworth, with more scrupulous adherence to the form of the Hebrew expression; why should ye stir, and why should ye stir up the love.] And by omitting the gazelles and hinds of the field as well as contracting עד שתחכּץ into one word by means of Makkeph, a rhythmical reduction of the whole exclamation to a verse of but two members has been attained.
 [That Solomon had given Shulamith any occasion for disquietude, or that her pain at his absence arose from a suspicion of the constancy, warmth or purity of his affection, is the merest figment without the shadow of a foundation in the language of the Song. Solomon is Shulamith’s ideal as she is his. She does not utter one word of complaint to others or of reproach to him. There is nothing to imply that in her most secret thoughts she censures him for an absence which is intolerable to her. As far as there is any blame in the case, she casts it upon her own drowsy sluggishness, which forbore to open to him promptly and grant him the admission that he sought. Even this, however, occurring as it did in a dream, seems to be told not so much in a spirit of self-reproach as to demonstrate that she was “sick of love.” She longs for her beloved every moment, and, sleeping or waking, he is ever in her thoughts, and she is uneasy and restless when he is not by her side. But her confidence is unabated that she is her beloved’s and her beloved is hers, Song of Solomon 6:3. Her language respecting him is that of affectionate admiration, Song of Solomon 5:10, etc., and his to her is that of the most tender fondness, Song of Solomon 6:4, etc. There has been a brief separation, but there is nothing to indicate so much as a momentary estrangement on her part or on his.
The current allegorical interpretations seem here to be at fault in one direction as much as that of Zöckler errs in the other. The image of ideal love presented in the Song should not be marred by the untimely introduction of any thing outside of itself, whether the sins and inconsistencies of the church or of believing souls on the one hand, or the actual historical character of Solomon as learned from Kings and Chronicles on the other. We are not at liberty to put constraint upon the language here employed for the sake of making the bride mirror forth the deficiencies of the Church or of preserving the consistency of Solomon’s character as represented here with all that is recorded of him elsewhere.
The bride supplies an emblem of devoted attachment and faithful love, which is to be set before the Church as the ideal towards which she should tend, and after which she should aspire and struggle, rather than as a picture which has been or is realized in her actual life. It is a bride loving, longing for, delighting in her lord, but conscious of no unfaithfulness on her part and suspecting none on his.
And the bridegroom is equally removed from any charge of inconstancy. The military metaphor of Song of Solomon 6:4-5, to which Zöckler appeals, is not suggestive of frowns or of displeasure any more than Song of Solomon 4:4 or the strong language of Song of Solomon 4:9. It is her incomparable charms, the batteries of beauty and of love which assault him with such resistless energy that he pleads for quarter. Nor is there any foundation for the desire attributed to Shulamith to escape from Solomon’s court or to have him forsake it on account of its presumed excesses. It certainly cannot be deduced from language which simply expresses an exquisite delight in natural objects, and a wish to enjoy them in the company of her beloved, and to possess the opportunity which would thus be afforded for uninterrupted and unrestricted converse. The language of the bride Song of Solomon 7:11-12 is entirely parallel to Song of Solomon 2:10-13 in the mouth of her lover. And the indelicacy alleged in Song of Solomon 7:2 is not in the pure language of the song, nor in the chaste and beautiful emblems employed, but must be wholly charged to the account of mal-interpretation. Commentators of what our author justly terms the profane-erotic class have put their own offensive glosses upon this Song; and some devout and evangelical interpreters have unfortunately made concessions which the facts of the case do not warrant. There is not the slightest taint of impurity or immodesty to he found in any portion of this elegant lyric.—Tr.]
[The difficulty of finding a suitable beginning and close for these divisions suggests a doubt of their certainty, or at least of their importance.—Tr.]
A marked instance of this is to be found in the well-known dream of the youthful Ansgar at Corbie, of the broad morass, which prevented him from coming to his mother and other pious women, whom he saw in the company of the blessed virgin on a delightful road, comp. A. Tappehorn, Leben des heil. Ansgar, Apostels Von Dänemark, etc. Munst. 1863, p. 69 f. Rimbert, Vita S. Ansgarii, c. 2, in Pertz, Monum. Germaniæ Tom. II. p. 690.
[Burrowes states the true sense much more simply and correctly: “These words mean, that as the bride had retired to rest, she could not put herself to the trouble of arising even to let in the beloved.”]
[Not “withdrew his hand from the hole,” a rendering mentioned by Ainsworth, disapproved by Williams, and adopted by Burrowes and Ginsburg.]
[Percy: “It was the ancient custom to secure the door of a house by a cross bar or bolt; which at night was fastened with a little button or pin. In the upper part of the door was left a round hole, through which any person from without might thrust his arm, and remove the bar, unless this additional security were superadded.” Thrupp: “The hole is that through which according to the fashion of eastern doors, a person from without thrusts in his hand in order to insert the key and so to open it, see Thomson The Land and the Book, chap. 22”]
[Alexander (Comm. on Isaiah 16:11): “The viscera are evidently mentioned as the seat of the affections. Modern usage would require heart and bosom. Barnes correctly applies to this verse the distinction which philologists have made between the ancient usage of bowels to denote the upper viscera and its modern restriction to the lower viscera, a change which sufficiently accounts for the different associations excited by the same or equivalent expressions then and now.”]
[Thrupp: “up I arose.” Literally “I arose.” So too at the beginning of the next verse the literal rendering is simply “I opened.” But in both places the use, contrary to the Hebrew custom of the pronoun אני “I” is emphatic; and seems to indicate an alertness and forwardness, which must in an English rendering be expressed in some other manner.]
[Thrupp thinks the myrrh came from the hands of the bridegroom, Wordsworth from those of the bride. Williams: “Commentators in general suppose that the perfume here called liquid myrrh, proceeded from the moisture of his hands, wet with dew; and the compliment in this view is very elegant and beautiful, implying that the fragrance of his body perfumed everything which came in contact with it. If the perfume, however, be referred to the spouse, I think it will imply that she had anointed herself with such luxuriancy that her fingers were still wet with myrrh; and this would partly account for her reluctancy to rise, since indulgence naturally induces sloth.” Good and Patrick strangely imagine that in her haste to reach the door she overturned a vase of fragrance which agreeably to oriental practice she had prepared for her lover.]
 Particularly Lucretius, 4:1171:
“At lacrimans exclusus amator limina sæpe
Floribus et sertis operit, postesque superbos
Unguit amaracino et foribus miser oscula figit.”
Comp. also Tibull. I. ii. 14; Athenæ. ed. Casaubon, I. 669.
[Good: “Pure or perhaps liquid myrrh, that which weeps or drops from the tree, the most esteemed but most expensive of this class of perfumes.”]
[Noyes gives the most satisfactory explanation of this expression: “I was not in my senses; literally, ‘my soul was gone from me.’ The meaning most suited to the connection is, that she acted insanely in not admitting her beloved at his request. It seems to denote that bewilderment of the faculties caused by fear, as in Genesis 42:28, or by any other passion; here by the passion of love.” Or rather the bewilderment intended would seem to be that strange want of self possession so common in dreams, in consequence of which a person does precisely the wrong thing, and as the result, finds himself in most embarrassing and trying situations. Westminster Annotations: “My neglect of his speech troubled me when he was gone.” Scott: “Either she now recollected his former most tender and affectionate call which she had resisted; or he spake a reproving word as he withdrew, which filled her with extreme distress.” Thrupp: “My soul failed me for what he had spoken. Here the reference must be to the words uttered by the bridegroom when he first presented himself at the door: for there is no record of his speaking subsequently.” Ginsburg: “When he spoke of it, i.e., of his going away.” Moody Stuart: “My soul failed for his speaking; with mingled desire and fear she listens till her soul faints within her.”]
[Thrupp: “It seems to be generally agreed that the word רדיד occurring here, and at Isaiah 3:23, denotes a wide and thin garment, such as Eastern ladies to the present day throw over all the rest of their dress. The Germans well translate it Schleierkleid, veil-garment.” Good: “To tear away the veil from an Eastern lady is one of the greatest indignities that can be offered to her.”]
[Much better Thrupp: “That the dramatic form may be preserved a question is here put by the chorus of the Daughters of Jerusalem in order to furnish occasion for the description which follows.” It is also to he observed that the inquiry is not who he is, as though it implied their ignorance of his person, but what is he. They simply wish to draw from her her estimate of him.—Tr.]
[Thrupp: “His hands are folding panels of gold. The word גליל is applied, as we learn from 1 Kings 6:34, to the separate portions of a folding door; the doors to the holy of holies consisted of two leaves, each of which in its turn consisted of two halves or folds. There is no passage in which the word denotes a ‘ring;’ nor would this meaning be here so appropriate. The image is that of a door, not necessarily a large door, constructed in four or five separate folds, corresponding to the appearance presented by the hand when the fingers, while kept in contact with each other, are stretched at full length.”]
(Burrowes: “These doubtless refer to the beauty of his sandals;” so Good, Taylor, Williams and others. This seems to be the better explanation notwithstanding Ginsburg’s objection: “That it refers to his feet and not to his sandals is evident from Song of Solomon 5:11; Song of Solomon 5:14, where the head and the hands, the visible parts of the body, are described as golden; and it is but natural that the feet, the only remaining exposed parts, should also be described as golden.”)
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13